CAMP HANSEN, Japan - More than 600 U.S. military community members crowded the start line of the POW/MIA 9/11 remembrance 5K run at the House of Pain fitness center on Camp Hansen Sept. 16.
The run was held to remember and honor U.S troops who were prisoners of war or missing in action and also to honor those Americans killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said Navy Lt. Richard Bristol, Camp Hansen chaplain and an event coordinator.
The remembrance run was possible through the combined effort of the Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit program and the base chaplains.
This remembrance run was slightly different from years past. Usually the focus of a race is to cross the finish line first, but, during this event, runners were encouraged to stop at select points to remember America’s POWs and MIAs, as well as those lost on 9/11.
“By setting up remembrance points around the course of the run, we not only are giving everyone a chance to remember the fallen but to celebrate their lives as well,” Bristol said.
Six points along the run route were dedicated to an event that took place during the terrorist attacks. At these stop points, volunteers read aloud testimonies of the heroic acts that occurred amidst the tragedy of 9/11.
“The subjects of 9/11, POWs and MIAs can be very sensitive,” said Bristol. “We didn’t create this event to remind people of the losses of Sept. 11, 2001, but to show the bravery of these individuals.”
At the start of the run, Col. David P. Olszowy, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, commanding officer and Camp Hansen commander, spoke.
“Each of our lives changed on that September day 10 years ago,” said Olszowy. “For many Marines in the Corps today, 9/11 is the reason they became Marines.”
Gathering with so many others for the run was a good way to commemorate America’s heroes and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, said Lance Cpl. Nicholas Montalto, a heavy-equipment mechanic with 7th Communication Battalion, III MEF Headquarters Group.
“It’s invigorating to see all the people who came out,” said Montalto. “It’s important for people to remember the sacrifice of the police, firefighters and service members.”