Sgt. Jose “Pepe” Escobedo, of Albuquerque, N.M., died of injuries suffered during a non-combat operation in Iraq in 2009. But he and hundreds of others who have fallen have not been forgotten.
Veronica Carreon, a Heidelberg spouse who made the trip to Stuttgart for the fourth annual Run to Remember, pinned a photo of Escobedo, her cousin, to her shirt and loaded her iPod with his favorite music. She credited him for helping her get through a 13.1 mile half-marathon. “Around mile 10, I started to get really hot,” Carreon said. “I said, Hey Pepe, where’s the rain? And just a few minutes later, it did.” More than 350 participants laced up for the half marathon and 5K run, a collaborative event between 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation — created to honor and remember heroes who have fallen since 9/11.
Participants who signed up for the race were also able to submit names of fallen heroes they wanted to have recognized and included on the event T-shirt.
The names of 253 heroes were read (only 30 were submitted the first year) and honored during a somber pre-race opening ceremony, which was dedicated to Master Sgt. Danial “Slim” Adams, a Stuttgart Soldier who was killed in action on Sept. 13, 2011, and is the most recent casualty of 1/10 SFG(A). Master Sgt. Adams’ wife Melany ran this year’s half marathon in his honor.
Morgan Mahlock, a Patch High School senior and member of its cross country team, took first place overall in the women’s 5K for the second year in a row. She, along with many other runners, commented that this year’s course was tougher than previous years, as it included a long, steep hill just before the final stretch.
“Half of it is mental,” Mahlock said. “Your body has to be ready, but your mind needs to be in it, too.”
The idea for the event came from the minds of 1/10th Soldiers, who had over 100 runners participate this year. The unit worked with Family and MWR to create the first event in 2009 to recognize their fallen comrades. “We’ve been at war for so long, that almost all of us know someone who has fallen in battle,” said Capt. Anthony Heisler, Headquarters and Support Company commander, 1/10th SFG(A). “I think an event like this offers a great opportunity to honor them and show solidarity.” The 1/10th SFG(A) Family Support Group also benefitted from the race by sponsoring a pre-race pasta dinner and selling refreshments after the race, which helped to raise funds for upcoming events, added Heisler. Due to its theme and the half marathon option, the Run to Remember has become the most popular annual running event in the Stuttgart military community, according to Family and MWR officials.
“It’s a very moving event,” said Carreon, who came from Heidelberg and ran to remember her cousin “Pepe.” “Every community should do something like this.”
2012 Run to Remember results Half marathon, overall men: Anthony Benitez, 1:23:24; Mitchell Bailey, 1:27:22; Kurt Barkei, 1:28:37. Half marathon, overall women: Jeannette Derner, 1:40:42; Erica Barkei, 1:41:30; Melissa Silva, 1:51:25. Half marathon, team: U.S. Africa Command J5, 6:39:53; 1/10th Special Forces Alpha Company, 7:16:43; The Outcasts, 8:09:47. 5K, overall men: Connor Messerschmidt, 19:21; Samuel Taylor, 19:42; Jeremy Digioia, 20:10. 5K, overall women: Morgan Mahlock, 21:22; Chloe Kelsey, 23:17; Lauren Barton, 23:33.