By Mr. Andrew R McIntyre (Jackson)August 22, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Almost 3,000 service members and community members laced their running shoes and donned bibs in honor of fallen service members during the second annual Fort Jackson Run for the Fallen, Saturday at Hilton Field.
Survivor Outreach Services hosted the event in honor of the 291 South Carolinian service members who have fallen since Sept. 11, 2001 in the Global War on Terrorism. Soldiers from the Soldier Support Institute each wore a bib with the name of one of the fallen South Carolinian service members.
"The reason why this is an important event is because you cannot forget about those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom," said Leslie Smith, ACS Survivor Outreach Services coordinator. "We do this because we really care about our families and our fallen Soldiers. That's what we want them to know, and this is our way of expressing it to them."
Smith said eight families of fallen service members participated in the run. Other participants included 200 drill sergeant candidates from the Drill Sergeant School, 600 additional runners from the Soldier Support Institute and runners from units across the post.
Runners could choose to write names of fallen service members on their bibs to honor fallen comrades. Smith said she was excited about the large number of participants. About 1,000 people took part in last year's inaugural run.
"The first year, people really didn't know -- they didn't know what we were trying to accomplish. They went back and heard about it from others and said, 'Hey, we want to be a part of this,'" Smith said.
She said for months she had heard from units and individual runners who wanted to sign up for the run. Many of the Soldiers participating in the event have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many decided to run in honor of a Soldier with whom they served.
Sgt. 1st Class Joel Quebec, 81st Regional Support Command, ran in honor of a close friend, Sgt. Myla Maravillosa, an Army Reservist who was assigned to Company C, 301st Military Intelligence Battalion, at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Maravillosa, a native of the Philippines, was called to active duty as an imagery analyst, with the 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and died in Iraq when her Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Al Hawijah, Dec. 24, 2005.
"Her positive attitude (and) friendliness made her stand out among her peers," Quebec said. "She was all about the service to her adopted country and fellow human beings. She was a woman of faith as opposed to just being a religious person.
"By all accounts, Myla was a very positive and friendly person defining the Army value of selfless service. She had left 20 percent of her (Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance) to her church and at one time had considered becoming a nun. She was the second woman to die in Iraq and the first Filipina-American -- even then-governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, went to her Hawaii-based services and met with her mother," Quebec said.
Quebec said he will continue to run to honor Maravillosa's service, regardless of where he will be stationed. He said any event conducted in honor and remembrance of others keeps their memories alive and reminds people of their sacrifice.
Col. Stephen Yackley, Fort Jackson's deputy commanding officer, told the runners the intent for the event is to raise awareness.
"We're not running today for prizes or trophies. We're not running to set records for the fastest time. We're running to honor all of our service members who made the ultimate sacrifice. We run today so they will not be forgotten," Yackley said.