By Capt. Charlie Dietz, 214th Fires Brigade PAONovember 29, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. (29 Nov. 2012) -- As the cannon boomed, more than 1,300 Soldiers, family, community members and even pets crossed the start line Nov. 21 to remember fallen heroes at the 214th Fires Brigade Fallen Soldier Memorial 5K Run here.
Amanda Alexander fired the cannon, signifying the start, resulting in a stampede of eager runners and walkers. Alexander was one of many Gold Star family members who attended the event. A Gold Star family member is an immediate family member to a fallen military person who died during service.
"Firing the cannon was amazing and a very loud experience. It was such an honor to be able to start the race," said Alexander. "There was such a good turn-out of our Army family. It was also a great opportunity for the Gold Star families to come together. To be able to talk to someone who knows what you are going through is a feeling that words cannot describe."
The run, which took place at Butner Field, raised more than $8,000 for charities and holiday food vouchers for Soldiers.
"We are hosting this run today to honor the memory of the service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but throughout our history," said Lt. Col. William Burnett, 214th Fires Brigade deputy commanding officer. "The money and food collected today by this run will go to help the Toys For Kids program, a local food bank, and toward providing holiday meal assistance to Soldiers here at Fort Sill. We are extremely excited and thankful for the participation from our military, their families, our community supporters and our sponsors for making this event such a success."
Burnett took time during the award ceremony to reflect on the sacrifices service members made.
"To those families here who have lost a loved one in uniform, each and every one of us here is your second family. We grieve your loss, and we will never forget what they have done for us and for our nation," he said.
The weather was a perfect 58 degrees and the sun was shining bright as the first place runner, 2nd Lt. Eric Geber, crossed the finish line with a time of 18:25, taking home a free hotel package.
"I felt really good today. Not my fastest run, but I felt I prepared well. The weather was really nice for the run. There were a lot of people out, and it was great running with my classmates. It felt really good to run for the fallen Soldiers. I am always really motivated to run for something like this with a good cause." said Geber, a Basic Officer Leadership Course student here.
The second annual run seems to be a tradition in the making for the 214th FiB, and the excited crowd that rose in attendance from last year seemed to be all for it.
"It felt great to get out and run for a good cause; I would definitely do it again," said Sgt. Terry Padgett, running in his first 5K race.
Photos of this and other events that have happened in the 214th FiB , can be seen on the brigade's new official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/214thFiB.