By 13th Sustainment Command Expeditionary Public AffairsNovember 18, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - More than 600 service members and civilians took part in the Veteran's Day 5K race Nov. 11, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, paying tribute to the Veterans of past and present by running with Old Glory.
The Apollo Flag company in Totowa, N.J., donated an 18 foot by 12 foot American flag, as well as 600 miniature American flags and a flag commemorating Sept. 11, 2001 for the early-morning event.
Spc. Mauricio Jones, a transportation movement coordinator with the 840th Transportation Battalion and a Red Bank, N.J, native, said the donation was a lucky accident.
"I was tasked by our first sergeant to find a flag for the event and I remembered a company that I used to drive by on my way to work back home," he said. "When I called to price a flag, they offered to donate one."
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Galbusieri, the detachment first sergeant with the 840 Trans. Bn. and a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, said the donation of flags was a big deal to him and other Warfighters at JBB.
"The (service members) got to see that there are people out there that appreciate what they're doing," he said.
Galbusieri said his unit organized the event to honor the Veterans of today's contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to allow those still here to honor the Veterans from previous generations and conflicts.
"It's a way for them to feel proud of what they do, and to know what people before them were doing and what people after them will do," he said.
Maj. Lawrence W. Bittner, executive officer for the 840th Trans. Bn. and a Tacoma, Wash., native, said it was a good day for those spending their first Veteran's Day as Veterans themselves.
"They're getting a new appreciation for Veterans past and present. That it comes with the sacrifice of both (service members) and their families," Bittner said.
Before the runners crossed under Old Glory to start the race, Jones handed the Sept. 11 flag to another Soldier who held it high as he ran. Jones said this was especially important to him.
"That's the main reason I joined the Army," he said. "I was working in New York at the time of the attacks. We'll never forget."