By Spc. Eric-James Estrada, 4th BCT, 25th Inf. Div.April 23, 2012
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (April 23, 2012) -- In honor of Pat Tillman's legacy, more than 250 service members and civilians participated in the 7th Annual Pat Tillman Run, held for the first time at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, since Tillman's death in 2004.
The 4.2 mile run/walk event was organized by 1st Sgt. Marcus McClain, assigned to A Company, 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan. McClain has helped organize Pat Tillman Runs in previous deployments.
"I've done this event previously on another deployment and I decided I wanted to do it here on FOB Salerno and organize the event to raise situational awareness about the Pat Tillman Foundation and it also gives the Soldiers an opportunity to come out and have some fun," said McClain.
The winner of the race, Capt. Phil Sakala, a fire support officer for the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry, Task Force Blue Geronimo, with a run time of 22:03 said, "I came here to come out and do a fun run for a great cause. And being a staff officer I don't have an opportunity to get out and have a little bit of fun because I'm stuck behind my computer. So, I took full advantage, came out here and had that good 4-mile run and did it for a great cause."
Members of C Company, 425th BSTB, Task Force Warrior, ran the race together in company formation carrying their company guidon.
Pfc. Preston Austin with C Company, 425th BSTB, Task Force Warrior, said, "I think that Pat Tillman and the legacy he left was a great one. It's always good for the whole company to get together and run as a team and show our support for the things going on around the FOB. I think everyone out here showing support is a good thing."
After the completion of the race the winners were announced for both the males and females with prizes handed out to those who placed first and second.
In the men's category:
First place: Capt. Phil Sakala, a Fire Support Officer for the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry, Task Force Blue Geronimo.
Second place: Staff Sgt. Noe Perez with A Company, 725th Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), Task Force Centurion.
In the women's category:
First place: 2nd Lt. Sheila Wilson, with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan.
Second place: A tie between Sgt. Isela Ulman, a human resource specialist with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan, Spc. Cassandra Lio, with the 430th Military Police Detachment.
Friends and family, who wanted to continue to honor Pat's legacy and pay tribute to his commitment to leadership and service, created the Pat Tillman Foundation in 2004. The Pat Tillman Foundation has become a national leader in providing resources and educational scholarship support to veterans, active service members, and their spouses. The Tillman Military Scholars program aids all veterans, specifically the ever-growing population of veterans of Post-9/11 conflicts.
Since its inception, over 171 Tillman Military Scholars have been awarded, distributing 2 million dollars in scholarship support given out across 32 states and 59 academic institutions nationwide.