News: TACP run in remembrance
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
3/28/2014 - AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- More than 670 service members and coalition partners completed a total of 2,599 miles during a 24-hour Tactical Air Control Party remembrance run at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 27 and 28, 2014, to ensure those warriors who have made the ultimate sacrifice are never forgotten.
This year's 24-hour TACP challenge was the third annual event dedicated to the 10 fallen TACP warriors who were killed in combat and training operations within the last 20 years. The event was held world-wide with every TACP unit starting the run March 27 at noon local time.
"In addition to remembrance, TACPs are inherently competitive, so it's a worldwide competition to see how many miles we can run in memory of the guys who lost their lives," said Lt. Col. Danielle Willis, 717th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron commander who is deployed from Ft. Hood, Texas and a Providence, R.I., native.
TACP airmen embed with Army and Marine Corps units to call in airstrikes in the battlefield and their job is inherently dangerous, Willis said.
"Our most recent loss was Master Sgt. Joshua Gavulic, who was killed during a parachute training accident in February this year," Willis said. "Every hour we dedicated our run to a different fallen TACP member."
Col. Jennifer Fullmer, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander who hails from Wilton, Conn., and is stationed here, ran in remembrance of Maj. Greg Stone and said it is an honor for her to participate in the event.
"This event is very personal to me," Fullmer said. "Maj. Greg Stone was a great friend of mine. He was an amazing warrior and we made many memories flying in a B-1 together. As a B-1B pilot, I have had many opportunities to work with TACP Airmen and there is nothing more amazing than the professionalism of these warriors who during the middle of a firefight can stay calm and keep us aware of what's happening on the ground.
"This is a huge opportunity to come out here and remember those Airmen who are in the frontlines of the battlefield and those who have given their all; putting service before self."
According to Master Sgt. Alejandro Castillo, 717th EASOS superintendent, who hails from Victorville, Texas and is deployed from Ft. Hood, this run is one of the most important events because it is a way to keep the legacy of fallen TACP members going.
"If we don't remember those who have committed the ultimate sacrifice, then why are we even doing what it is we do?" asked Castillo. "We do this to remember those who've given their all for their country. They are here with us in spirit."