News: Bagram runners race to raise resources for wounded warriors
Story by Staff Sgt. Dave Overson
BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Saturday morning seemed to be the perfect opportunity for 855 runners to gather and participate in a five-mile race to help raise the much needed resources for our nation’s wounded heroes at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Between Bagram and Kandahar Airfields, which also facilitated a race event Saturday, 1,375 runners took part in raising $23,931 dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project.
The race was scheduled to coincide with a WWP race in Jacksonville, Fla., the same day.
WWP helps raise funds for America’s service members who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries, or illnesses in Afghanistan or Iraq.
“Never leave a fallen comrade behind” is part of the the United States Uniformed Services creed, and it was on full display in Saturday’s race. Airmen, sailors, soldiers, Marines and civilian contractors all showed up with one common goal … to race, have fun and raise money for America’s wounded heroes who need an extra helping hand after receiving service related wounds as a result of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
“I’m running today specifically for Corporal Cody Stanton,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael H. Skidmore, Task Force Med-East Group superintendent at Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram. “Corporal Stanton is an amazing young soldier who stepped on an IED while on foot patrol Jan. 26, 2012, and lost both of his legs and two fingers from his left hand.”
“I met Stanton on the intensive care ward when he was admitted to CJTH and I had many conversations with this upbeat, positive soldier,” an emotional Skidmore said. “All he wanted to do was get back to his unit and help his fellow soldiers.”
Roughly 30 members composed of medics, nurses and doctors from Bagram’s Med-East participated in the WWP race by carrying two dummy-loaded litters to represent injured service members.
Bagram’s “Run for a Warrior Five Miler” race on Saturday was the single largest running event on Bagram Air Field to date, with the runners ranging from 19 to 69.
Mike Hartz, a contractor at Bagram, said “I am dedicating this race to my son’s best friend and his family, Airman Michael Malarsie. He was wounded two years ago on patrol in southern Afghanistan and was the only survivor of his patrol. He lost sight in both eyes, but is still in the Air Force and councils returning wounded airmen in Texas.”
Mike Thayer, a contractor with Mission Essential Personnel in Bagram, and retired U.S. Army first sergeant, coordinated and executed the five-mile race at both Kandahar and Bagram with all contributions going directly to the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003, and what started as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they recover and transition back to civilian life.
“After successfully executing this event, I have renewed motivation that I do not need to wear a uniform to continue to serve our nation’s finest," said Thayer ”Outside of my direct family, there is no one I love more than soldiers.”