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Vandenberg runs, gives and remembers

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Cards containing a short biography of fallen servicemembers were handed out to runners during the 2009 Run to Remember here. The Run to Remember honors all servicemembers who lost their life in Operations Iraqi, Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Angelina Drake)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Cards containing a short biography of fallen servicemembers were handed out to runners during the 2009 Run to Remember here. The Run to Remember honors all servicemembers who lost their life in Operations Iraqi, Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Angelina Drake)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- Members of Team Vandenberg gathered outside of the fitness center here Nov. 11 to run a final mile for servicemembers who were killed in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

The final formation run marked the last mile of more than 7,000 ran in Vandenberg's second annual Run to Remember. The three-week event started Oct. 19 and closed with a Veteran's Day ceremony.

Approximately 5,248 servicemembers have been killed in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Over the last three weeks every one of those fallen servicemembers had someone run a mile in their honor.

"This started last year and has grown considerably," said Lt. Gen. Larry James, 14th Air force and Joint Functional Component Command for Space commander. "In just two years, I think it has already become an important event for Vandenberg and the surrounding community."

After the formation run ended, members of Team V congregated in the fitness center gymnasium for the rest of the ceremony. Inside, patrons paid tribute to the fallen men and women through a rendition of Taps, a presentation of photography from the event, and a presentation honoring two local families who both lost members in Iraq.

"My son would always tell people in his unit, 'I am pushing you, I am pulling you, but I am not leaving you behind," said Ms. Debbie Argel-Bastian, mother of fallen Air Force Captain Derek Argel. "Thank you all for pushing and pulling and not leaving our families behind."

The Run to Remember is not only about those who have fallen, but also those who are coming home wounded.

"The objectives of The Run to Remember are to honor our nation's fallen heroes and to raise money for our wounded and disabled veterans and others through the Combined Federal Campaign," said Command Chief Master Sgt. James MacKinley,14th Air Force.

Not only did people run, but they also gave. More than $4,000 was donated through the CFC during the event.