MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. --
More than twenty Airmen from the 134th Air Refueling Wing traveled to Gatlinburg Tenn. to compete in this year's Mountain Man Memorial March April 11, 2015.
The MMMM is an event held annually to honor Service members who were killed in action and their families.
The event was born in 2008 as a way to honor 1st Lt. Frank B. Walkup, IV. Walkup was a graduate of the Reserve Officers Training Corps at the University of Tennessee and was killed in action while deployed to Iraq in 2007. A group of UT ROTC cadets decided to create the MMMM as a way of honoring Walkup and his family.
"I've participated in the MMMM for the past three years," said Tech. Sgt. Lee Morgan, a satellite wideband communications specialist for the 119 Command and Control Squadron. "The march is without a doubt the best event I've ever participated in. It's a humble way to honor our fallen brothers and sisters, and provides support to the fallen service member's family. It also affords an opportunity to make a connection with the families; that connection has an immeasurable impact."
There are multiple events that military members and civilians alike may compete in. The two main categories are the run, and the march. Each of which have sub categories. For the run category you have ten kilometer run, half marathon and full marathon. For the March category you have 13.1 mile team, 26.2 mile team, 13.1 mile individual and the 26.2 mile individual. On top of that you have military specific categories, such as military heavy and military light which require ruck sacks and uniform requirements.
"I've participated as part of a team all three years," said Morgan. "I've been part of a different team each year which has helped me gain perspective of my fellow members; spending three to four hours on a march makes ample time to talk to people. The camaraderie of the teams is great. Each team I've had the pleasure to march with have all been highly motivated, not just to complete the march, but to help out others along the way. For example, this year a member was stopped along the road with an injury, Senior Airmen Church took the initiative, stopped and helped the member get bandaged up so they could finish the march. Every year you see stuff like that, fellow members helping each other out, and community members from all around stopping to honor, help, and cheer on."
The MMMM is an easy way for civilians and military members alike to be part of an event aimed at honoring those that have fallen on the battle field and the families of those service members who have suffered that loss.
"I strongly believe that military members as well as friends and families of military members share a common bond," said Lt. Col. Jason Brock, 134 ARW Maintenance Squadron commander. "The MMMM brings people together for a common goal: to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this awesome Nation. It's truly special to see nearly 1,000 people out there pushing toward the same goal. I hope the event continues to grow and the Tennessee Air National Guard continues to increase our participation in the March!"