News: Guardsmen Celebrate National Guard's Birthday with a Run in Baghdad
Story by 1st Lt. William Marquez
BAGHDAD, Iraq — On Dec. 13, at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, the headquarters and headquarters company, 49th Military Police Brigade, of Fairfield, Calif., ran 3.73 miles in the National Guard's Birthday Run to commemorate 373 years of citizen-soldier service.
Preceding the run, before a large crowd of hundreds of guardsmen, Maj. Gen. Peter Aylward, deputy commanding general for Iraqi security forces, spoke about the history of service performed by National Guardsmen since their origin in the colonial militias. Aylward focused on the decisive role militiamen, forerunners of guardsmen, played in key Revolutionary War battles.
Throughout his speech, a soldier stood to his right carrying a red guidon draped with multiple award and battle streamers representing hundreds of years of service to the nation. The soldier served in the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts National Guard. At one point during his speech, Aylward turned towards the soldier and gently lifted a streamer bearing the words Lexington and Concord, the famous first battles of the Revolutionary War where "shots were heard around the world."
Once Aylward finished speaking about the historical importance of the National Guard, he directed the many hundreds of participants to the starting line. From the beginning to the end of the race, the route was a floor of mud coating narrow roads. Throughout the race, mud kicked-up onto runner's shorts and legs. At the end of the race, the legs and backsides of participants were covered with mud, but motivation was still high.
"I rarely participate in running events, but this run is special. I wanted to show support for an organization that has supported the nation for so many years," said Sgt. Bradley Daeda, a communications sergeant with the 49th Military Police Brigade. "It felt great being out here with my fellow guardsmen celebrating our birthday."