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Security forces members begin march to Ground Zero

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Members of the Joint Base San Antonio security forces community began the kickoff leg of a 2,181-mile ruck march here July 12.

Participants from installations across the nation will continue the daily "Ruck March to Remember," which is scheduled to end Sept. 11 at Ground Zero in New York, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"The march honors security forces and service members who have fallen supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Tech. Sgt. Mark Latimer, the JB San Antonio team organizer from the Air Force Security Forces Center.

About 20 members from JB San Antonio units originally agreed to participate in the march.

But the word spread quickly, Latimer said, and "more Airmen have joined the walk."

Each JB San Antonio team member has volunteered off-duty time to participate, and any expenses have been paid for by the Airmen, he said.

The JB San Antonio portion of the journey culminates July 16 in La Grange, Texas, about 148 miles from here. Airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., are scheduled to take possession of the guidon from the JB San Antonio contingent on that day.

With Airmen carrying 50-lb. ruck sacks, and marching in temperatures near 100 degrees with high humidity, organizers took precautions by calling for rotating shifts and a 15-minute mile pace.

"The marchers will be well hydrated," said Latimer, "plus we have escort and trail vehicles for safety and emergencies."

The "Ruck March to Remember" originated in late 2010.

Maj. Jim Alves, the 4th SFS commander at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., suggested the march after reading about how combat controllers and pararescuemen walked 800-plus miles from Lackland AFB to Hurlburt Field, Fla., in honor of fallen special-tactics Airmen.

"I thought if we applied the same concept on a march from San Antonio to Ground Zero, it would not only be possible, but it would be an outstanding way of remembering those who have given their lives on, and since, 9/11," Alves said.

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Broughman, the overall march coordinator from the 4th SFS, said the march is a time for reflection on how Sept. 11 changed their career field, their lives and a nation.

"We're doing it to reflect on ... the time we've been away from our loved ones due to deployments, the effects those deployments have had on each person, and ultimately to remember the defenders who lost their lives by enemy hands since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom," Broughman said.

Since 9/11, ten security forces Airmen have been killed and more than 100 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan combat operations.

In addition to JB San Antonio and Barksdale AFB, other participating bases in the 148-mile legs include Keesler AFB, Miss.; Columbus AFB, Miss.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Tyndall AFB, Fla.; Moody AFB, Ga.; Robins AFB, Ga.; Pope AFB, N.C.; Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; Langley AFB, Va.; Andrews AFB, Md.; Dover AFB, Del.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; and the New York Air National Guard.