Airmen Run to Remember, some can never forget

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
 Members of team Vandenberg have been running to remember fallen servicemembers for a little over a week now. While some are running to remember, others are running for people and events they can never forget.

A Run to Remember has given Team Vandenberg the opportunity to donate money, through the Combined Federal Campaign, to organizations which provide services to wounded warriors. Prior to running, members pick a fallen servicemember and carry a small card containing a short bio on that person while they run. Everyone has their own reasons for picking those they run for; however, some pick for much more personal reasons.

At least one Team V member chose a person he was deployed with. What's more, he was actually present when his friend was killed in action.

Senior Airmen Christopher Hubenthal, a photographer with the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office, was deployed as a combat cameraman in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in May of 2007. Shortly after arriving, he was attached to the 20th Infantry Division.

"We met tribal leaders and made arrangements with them to better the neighborhoods we were working in," Airmen Hubenthal said. "We were also clearing roads and apprehending suspected terrorists."

It was there he met Army Sgt. Andrew Higgins, an infantryman with the unit.

"He wasn't a squad leader, but he was definitely looked up to by the privates and specialists--he was kind of the unofficial squad leader," Airman Hubenthal said. "He showed me the ropes a lot. Even though I was Air Force and I was new out there, he took me under his wing and gave me a lot of advice so I knew what I was doing.

"I think that's why it's so personal for me. I was looking at it as an opportunity to build a great portfolio and he set me straight as to the grim reality of the situation."

It was less than a month after meeting Sergeant Higgins that Airman Hubenthal lost the person who gave him so much needed advice.

"We were doing foot patrols through Baqubah and we were ordered to do over-watch, which basically meant we were going to stay in somebody's house for 24 hours," he explained. "Then 24 hours turned into nearly 48 hours.

Sergeant Higgins died during that mission on June 5, 2007 of wounds sustained when the building they were staying in began taking small arms fire from enemy forces.

Deeply affected by the event, Airman Hubenthal jumped at the opportunity to honor Sergeant Higgins in the Run to Remember by pledging to run three miles.

"I think this was a great idea," he said. "These people are gone, the least we can do is take 35 to 40 minutes out of our busy schedule to show some respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us--this is the least I can do for someone who did so much for me."