QUEENSBURY, NY--More than 300 Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, veterans and military family members and friends took part in the annual Christmas Eve Road March held Friday, Dec. 24 at the New York State Armory here.

It was the largest turnout since Sgt 1st Class Arthur Coon, the New York Army National Guard recruiter here, organized the first march in 2004. The walk from the Army National Guard Armory to Warren County Airport and back is a way for the local community to say thank you to soldiers spending their holidays overseas.

Specialist Ashley Towers, a local Soldier home on leave from Iraq (assigned for deployment to the Queens, NY-based 442nd Military Police Company), marched carrying a guidon of her unit, which continues to serve near Baghdad.

"I'm actually missing my buddies back in Iraq," Towers said. "I feel kind of sad that not everybody gets the opportunity, but like I said, I feel really blessed. I'm really close to my family, so I'm looking forward to spending the holidays with them."

"They could be in Afghanistan, on a remote outpost and they'll hear about this story from family and friends and realize that they're supported and people think about them at the holidays," Coon said.

Many marchers wore dog tags carrying the names of more than 200 deployed service members.

In addition to New York National Guard members from many units, one group of marchers, comprised of military Family members and friends, participated on behalf of a deployed platoon of Soldiers assigned to the Army's 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum.

Family members from the New York National Guard's Scotia-based Headquarters 501st Ordnance Battalion also took part. The unit was mobilized in September.

Some area mothers of Active Duty Soldiers serving in Afghanistan marched carrying dog tags which bear the names of their loved ones.

The first Christmas Road March was conducted in 2004 when Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's Company C, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, which was then based at the now-closed Glens Falls Armory, were away from home in Iraq over Christmas.

Other Soldiers assigned to the armory, from the 466th Area Medical Company, got together to conduct a road march, the military term for a walking movement, in their honor.

Since then, the march has become a tradition to recognize the sacrifices being made by all American service men and women who are on duty away from their Families during the Christmas season.