Story by Spc. Michael Vanpool
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – On the morning of April 16, the Sustainers ran for their fallen comrades. They ran for friends that were lost one year ago. They ran for soldiers that will never run again.
The run honored five soldiers of the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade who were lost in an attack at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Afghanistan, April 16, 2011.
“It was a significant portion of this formation, and we will always remember them on this day as the fallen heroes that left this formation,” said Lt. Col. Derek Bean, the battalion commander
Eighteen Soldiers were stationed at FOB Gamberi for the mentorship mission with the Afghan National Army. One year ago, a suicide bomber walked into a morning briefing, and left seven Americans dead, including an officer based out of Alaska and a civilian contractor.
“Today we honor the lives of six extraordinary soldiers and one selfless serving civilian who were great people and even better friends,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Riggs during a speech after the run. Riggs was a member of the Gamberi team and the battalion’s intelligence section non-commissioned officer in charge for STB.
The start to end point, and every mile marker in-between, represented one of the fallen soldiers from the incident. Plaques of the five soldiers were slated to stand along the route, but the early morning rain showed, once again, that things can change in an instant.
“What [the attack] means for me is that four seconds can change people’s lives,” Riggs said, “but it does not always have to be for the worse.”
The start point was for Sgt. 1st Class Charles Adkins, a native of Sandusky Ohio. Adkins’s kids ran with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, staying close with the guidon all the way until the end.
“I know when I think about Chuck, “Chuck Diesel” as we called him, had three loves, that woman right there, his kids and the game of golf,” Riggs said after the run.
The first mile was for Staff Sgt. Cynthia Taylor, a native of Columbus, Ga.
“And every morning, even when it’s cloudy like this,” said Riggs. “I take time to enjoy the sun and the fresh air, which is what Cindy did before she went into work every morning."
The Sustainers breezed through mile two and three for Sgt. Linda Pierre, of Immokalee, Fla., and Spc. Sonny Moses, of Hagatna, Guam.
“Today’s run is the way both Linda and Sonny would’ve wanted to start their day,” Riggs said.
The final mile was for Spc. Joseph Cemper, of Warrensburg, Mo. He returned to Gamberi two weeks after traveling to see his son’s birth.
“I remember the way Joe Cemper’s eyes would light up when he talked about Abbie [his fiancé] and Liam [his newborn son],” Riggs said during his speech.
After the run finished up, and everyone was cooled down, they recalled the importance of honoring their fallen comrades and living for them.
“So my message for you today, for those that lost someone that day, remember the love for life that each one of friends had and allow yourself to heal so that you too can heal,” Riggs said.
“Remember and honor our heroes, their families, and do not allow a tragic event to kill you from within.”