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    IS&A Team Members Commemorate Grueling March with Virtual Marathon

    IS&A Team Members Commemorate Grueling March with Virtual Marathon

    Photo By John Higgins | The Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO),organized a virtual marathon, with the...... read more read more



    Story by John Higgins 

    Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors

    AL JUBAIL NAVAL AIRPORT, Saudi Arabia, 1991 — Word came down from higher. It was time to move. I Marine Expeditionary Force units stepped off on January 17, marching roughly 218 miles (350 km) to the center of Kuwait City. On February 28, a radio broadcast out of the United Kingdom was the first to report President George Bush calling for an end to hostilities.

    Soon after, Marine Corps. Maj. Gen. Richard Hearney, Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force got on the radio and said "Cease all offensive operations effective 280500Z 0800C [The grid coordinates of the center of Kuwait]. Remain in current positions and assume defensive posture. Wartime rules of engagement remain in effect. Be prepared to resume offensive operations. Forces are allowed to defend themselves."

    That would end major operations in what had become Operation Desert Storm and remembered as what historian and Marine Corps. Col. Charles Quilter called the “most spectacular victory in two generations,” in his monograph “U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf, 1990-1991 with the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.”

    Thirty Years later, in the midst of a pandemic, the Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO), well known for their annual 17.75 km (11 miles) Marathon – the number of kilometers paralleling the year the Marine Corps was founded, 1775 – organized a virtual marathon, with the goal of athletes covering 218 miles individually or in teams, however they can, between January 17 and February 28.

    Team members from Aberdeen Proving Grounds Project Manager Intelligence Systems and Analytics took the opportunity to keep their team bonds strong despite the required distance to maintain safety and help halt the spread of COVID-19.

    “When this popped up I thought ‘this is an awesome idea!’” said Shaun Cronen, from PM IS&A. “You could do it on your own – which I’m sure Sam [Barczak] could have – I possibly could too, if I really put my nose to the grind stone. I’ve run 150 miles in a month so what’s a little more? It was a great opportunity for us to do some team building, bring everyone ‘together’ virtually, we floated the idea and it broke out into two teams: Team DEVSECRUN! and Team Titan GO!”

    On Team DVSECRUN! was Nicole Allen, Jess Stock, Shaun Cronen, Gary Divito, Col. Thomas Nguyen Program Manager for IS&A, and Bharat Patel and on Team TITAN Go! was Maj. Donald Bell, Samantha Barczak, Sonia Lorenzoni, and Maj. Dominic “Nick” Bono.

    “It’s been tough for me just having some kind of motivation to get out there,” said Cronen. “[Last year] all the races had been cancelled and in winter it’s always hard to motivate yourself anyway. This at least gave us a sort of mark on wall to at least get out or get on the treadmill. That friendly competition and seeing everyone from the team make that progress. It ended being a really nice motivator.”

    Marathon running is not merely a physical effort, but a mental one that can allow people to learn things, about themselves and their peers.

    “It was never about being the fastest or anything, it was great to see the motivation and camaraderie that this helped us find as a team,” said Cronen. “It was definitely important, it taught me a lot about other people, I didn’t know Col. Nguyen was a runner or how fast he is.”

    The online mileage track augmented the learning process as well, deploying facts about history Operation desert storm to the teams every six miles.

    Two ordnance Marines, Capt. Eric McCoy and Staff Sergeant Joshua Alvarez, stationed on Marine Corps. Air Station Cherry Point, were able to speak to the comradery marathons can foster and the history marathons can teach.

    “I think that is important that we as a nation remember the things we have done both militarily and otherwise.” said McCoy. “I think to recognize the people, that aren’t really that much older than I am, that have served and the way the Marine Corps does as well, by adding another event to ‘#RunwiththeMarines,’ it’s a great way to remember those 218 miles.”

    McCoy was the one who encouraged Alvarez to participate in his first marathon.

    “I’d never run a marathon, never thought about running a Marathon so I thought ‘why not? Why don’t I go try this?” said Alvarez. He joined a team of three running the Marine Corps. Marathon that year.

    “I’m huge sports guy, I love competition, so when the three of us went out, as the young guy I had to try to beat [the older Marines on the team],” said Alvarez. “What a humbling experience it was. I think every year until the day I die I’ll do the Marine Corps Marathon. ”

    Col. Thomas Nguyen, the Project Manager for IS&A, recognized the benefits of the Marathon."

    "During the COVID 19 lockdown, the Desert Storm 218 Miler not only pays tribute to those servicemen and women who fought for freedom in liberating Kuwait, but this virtual relay provides an excellent opportunity to promote physical fitness and esprit de corps for our incredible IS&A workforce, friends & families. Pandemic, rain, sleet or snow, we're going to safely have a lot of fun!" said Nguyen.

    Each team would “pool” their miles to complete the 218 mile total, with DEVESECRUN! Ending with 270.88 and TITAN Go! ending with 251.94 miles."

    Nguyen, upon finding out his team was roughly two miles short of the final goal, stepped back outside to add two more miles to his total one morning to put the team over the virtual finish line.



    Date Taken: 02.28.2021
    Date Posted: 04.08.2021 12:13
    Story ID: 393338

    Web Views: 22
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