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    Fort Campbell community runs to honor fallen

    Community runs to honor fallen

    Photo By Ethan Steinquest | Retired Army Cpl. Phil Cook shows a memorial flag to 2nd Lt. Curt Doescher, center,...... read more read more

    FORT CAMPBELL, KY, UNITED STATES

    06.25.2021

    Story by Ethan Steinquest 

    Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office

    FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Retired Army Cpl. Phil Cook spent six months learning to walk again after undergoing surgery for a combat injury that left shrapnel in his lower back, and doctors said his rucking days were behind him.

    Since hearing that news roughly five years ago, Cook has proven them wrong again and again. Most recently, he crossed the finish line at Fort Campbell’s annual Run for the Fallen with a 35-pound rucksack and a U.S. flag honoring 12 fallen Soldiers he served with as part of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

    “This is my way of continuing to serve,” said Cook, whose Army career spanned 16 years and five deployments. “It’s an honor to be able to do this and pay tribute to the Families, as well as the Soldiers that I served with, and to be able to share with the newer generation of Soldiers what I’ve experienced with the guys represented on this flag here today.”

    Cook joined hundreds of Soldiers and Families at Town Center Park for this year’s event, hosted as part of the Week of the Eagles.

    “I’m really looking forward to this entire week,” said Maj. Gen. JP McGee, commanding general, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell. “Today as we head out on this run, I ask you all to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have come before us. I know many of us here are running for friends that we’ve left behind in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other locations ... it’s a somber occasion, but it’s also really special for us all to be out here.”

    Attendees chose between a 1.2-mile route around the perimeter of Division Headquarters or an extended 3-mile route highlighting seven memorial sites. Both routes passed by the Boots on the Ground display, which includes more than 8,000 boots representing fallen service members.

    “Going by that yard and seeing all those boots, it’s a very emotional and impactful moment,” said Petra Roush, human resources assistant, Fort Campbell Directorate of Human Resources. “How many of them have put their lives in danger for those of us here today? If they could run, they’d be here doing it.”

    Roush was among several runners from Team RWB, a nonprofit aimed at helping veterans transition out of the military by keeping them physically and socially active. She said participating in the Run for the Fallen ties directly into their mission and strengthens the support network for Gold Star Families.

    “It’s humbling because you see how wide and massive it is,” said Yolanda Black, Team RWB member. “Everybody’s going through it, everybody’s had to deal with it and it’s comforting to know there are others who share in the grief and remember these Soldiers.”

    For Lt. Col. Mike Harrison, commander, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., there are plenty of Soldiers to remember.

    “This year was particularly special because one of my classmates at West Point, 1st Lt. Dennis Zilinski, was in the battalion that I’m in now,” he said. “He was killed back in 2005, and it’s an honor to represent him this year ... he was just an unflappable, outgoing, positive leader and always had a smile on his face.”

    Harrison ran with a 45-pound rucksack and U.S. flag in tow, and could often be seen heading back onto the route to encourage other participants. He said it was important to make sure Soldiers, Families and community members felt connected, especially during the Week of the Eagles.

    “We couldn’t do it last year because of COVID-19, so I think it’s something that’s much needed,” he said. “Run for the Fallen, and this whole week, is a great opportunity to come together as a community and reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

    Katrina Guerrero, an Army spouse and financial adviser with First Command, spent much of her time on the route remembering Spc. Sebastian Hernandez, who died in 2017 while serving at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Hernandez had previously served with Guerrero’s husband and had become a Family friend.

    “He was always very happy, loved talking to people and was very down to earth – he was just a really good kid,” she said. “Overall, it’s really powerful being here and able to honor all the people who have lost their lives wearing the uniform, and this is a way we can all come together to honor them.”

    Cook said that shared desire to keep fallen Soldiers’ memories alive is what brings people onto the installation year after year to complete the Run for the Fallen.

    “It’s about the selfless service, the dedication and the drive to make sure all these fallen Soldiers out here on this field are never forgotten,” Cook said. “Their Families gave the ultimate sacrifice through their loss, and it’s my goal as a survivor of the group to let them know their sons and daughters are remembered.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.25.2021
    Date Posted: 07.01.2021 15:28
    Story ID: 400246
    Location: FORT CAMPBELL, KY, US 

    Web Views: 64
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN