By Sgt. Kimberly K. Menzies, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public AffairsFebruary 27, 2014
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky-Twenty Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) participated in the first 2nd Lt. Justin Sisson Memorial 5K Race, Feb. 22, 2014 which was held on the Florida State University campus in Tallahassee, Fla.
Sisson, the platoon leader of 1st Platoon, Able Co., 1st Bn., 506th Inf. Regt., and a FSU alumnus, gave the ultimate sacrifice, June 3, 2013, in Chamkani, Afghanistan, when he was killed in action from wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
"The run was organized--thought up--by some of his close friends who he had done ROTC with and friends who had been part of the charter organization," said 1st Lt. Wade Redenius, the current platoon leader for 1st Platoon, Able Co., 1st Bn. , 506th Inf. Regt., and friend of Sisson.
The race was primarily organized by a college group called the Students for America's Military, of which Sisson was a charter member, that supports Veteran Organizations across the country.
"The purpose of the 5K was to honor 2nd Lt. Justin Sisson's life, legacy, service and his ultimate sacrifice," describes Signe Thomas, the director of the race and close friend of Sisson.
Over 500 people came from across the country to attend and participate in the event.
"In addition to the 20 Red Currahees attending, Justin's parents and grandparents were there," shares Redenius. "There were also a few of his Ranger buddies, the doctor and two medics who treated Sisson in Salerno, FSU ROTC program participants, Florida Agriculture Mechanic ROTC participants, and students and alumni that knew Justin," explains Redenius.
For many of the Currahees attending, it was an inspirational event.
"The experience was amazing," shares 1st Sgt. Christopher Donaldson , the first sergeant with Able Co., 1st Bn., 506th Inf. Regt. "It was inspiring to see how many people came out from around the States to celebrate the memory of a true Hero."
All proceeds from the race will go toward the foundation which has been set up in Sisson's name, the Justin Sisson Outstanding Cadet Award. This award will be presented annually to an exceptional FSU Army ROTC cadet in order to help pay his or her tuition.
"The most impactful thing for me was seeing the first two cadets receiving the scholarship that was set up in Lt. Sisson's name and hoping that they will one day be an inspiring leader like he was," said Donaldson.
When asked why it was important to attend this race, Currahees all speak of Sisson's positive leadership influence.
"I am appreciative of everything that he did," said Redenius. "I really respected and looked up to him, and this is the right place to be to honor him and his memory--to be around people who have shared memories of him."
"It was important to me because he was one of my fallen Hero's and I will always continue to support my Gold Star Family members no matter who it is but he also had become a good friend of mine and I have gotten to know his parents very well," explains Donaldson. "I want the world to know that no matter who he talked to he always left a lasting impression on you. He always had a smile on his face and was always happy."
"The idea for this event actually came from Justin himself," said Kevin Sisson, Sisson's father. "He had always wanted to give back to the place where he learned so much, and I am so glad it is happening."