FORT LEE, Va. – A former brigade commander and CASCOM headquarters staff officer is returning this weekend to serve as a featured speaker of the annual Run for the Fallen observance. She will share the story of losing her husband in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
RFTF is set for Saturday at Williams Stadium. Check-in begins at 7 a.m., and the opening ceremony starts at 8:30 a.m., with introductory remarks by Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general.
The event is open to all community members and visitors who have completed post access requirements outlined at home.army.mil/lee/index.php/about/visitor-information. Participants can opt to run or walk the 5K or one-mile courses.
Retired Col. Tamatha Patterson, who once headed the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade, said she is very excited about returning to Fort Lee where she served for several years.
“I am honored and humbled to be asked to share my story with the Fort Lee Community,” said the Gold Star Spouse and mother of two who lives in the Washington, D.C., metro area. “I consider this community ‘home’ since most of my military career was spent here.”
In addition to remembering and honoring the sacrifice of fallen military members, RFTF will recognize the occurrences of Sept. 11, 2001. That is a day Patterson vividly remembers, yet would like to forget. Her husband, Maj. Clifford Patterson, was among the 184 lost during the Pentagon attack. Like many suffering such losses, she has experienced overwhelming grief followed by acceptance and, in her case, empowerment.
“When I first shared my story … I was still struggling with the fact I had lost my husband so abruptly,” Patterson said. “I was sad, scared, angry and lonely all at the same time.
“My journey,” she continued, “to where I am today has been a long one, mostly because I attempted to deal with it alone while being a mother, sister, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, Soldier and friend all at the same time. My journey was difficult, but it has made me stronger, confident and humbler as I face each day.”
Patterson’s 9/11 story was presented in the Fort Lee Traveller Newspaper 13 years ago. That account is available at https://www.dvidshub.net/news/404738/soldier-moves-after-9-11-loss.
To the thousands likely to participate in RFTF, Patterson said her message will focus on the three ‘Fs’ – family, faith and friends – and how they can help fill in life’s empty spaces.
“I hope those grieving can see through my story that it’s ok to be human … to cry … to be angry… to grieve…. to seek help…,” she said. “It’s all about you and how you deal with your loss… making decisions to live your life to the fullest each and every day. The last 20 years has caused me to focus on who I am, what I stand for, and what really matters in my life.”
In addition to Patterson and Simerly, RFTF will feature the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) Silent Drill Team.
Those interested in participating in RFTF can attend in-person or virtually. Visit lee.armymwr.com/programs/runforthefallen for further details. All attending in-person are required to wear masks as a COVID-19 mitigation measure.