FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School held a sunrise 5K run Sept. 10, where nearly 50 CBRN Soldiers came together to reflect on 9/11 and the ensuing Global War on Terror, and their roles as service members.
Before the run began, USACBRNS Ethics Instructor and Regimental Chaplain (Maj.) Jason Southard — who organized the event — addressed the group regarding the importance of remembering why they serve.
“I felt like this year, especially, deserved unique attention, with the 20th anniversary of 9/11, ” he said. “I wanted them to think about why they serve, and remind them not to allow other people to define that for them.”
The runners were split into seven groups, each with a leader who uncased a list of printed names, rolled them up and placed them inside a baton.
In total, 10,046 names were divided among the groups. They included the 2,979 victims on 9/11, and the 7,067 service members killed supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Each baton started off with the group leader, Southard said, and then was passed to others, so everybody in the group could carry “that constant reminder.”
“At the conclusion of the run, each group returned their baton, casing their names,” he added.
For one of the participants — Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Chrisman, USACBRNS deputy chief of the Hazardous Materials Dismounted Reconnaissance Department — 9/11 was a call to serve, again.
“I served for four years, but got out in March 2001,” he said. “I went back to the recruiter’s office on Sept. 12, 2001.”
Since then, Chrisman — who also now has a son serving in the Army in Korea — has deployed to Iraq seven times. He said he volunteered to participate in Southard’s event the moment he heard about it.
“Anytime I get a chance to reflect on what brought me back into the service, I’m not going to miss it,” he said. “Plus, there are so many who want to be in uniform but can’t — who want to serve, but aren’t able to. That’s one of the reasons I stay in the service — to honor those who have come before us and represent those who want to serve, but can’t.”