It’s been five years since 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines made the headlines for becoming the heaviest hit battalion in Iraq.
The Reserve unit from Brook Park, Ohio, lost 46 Marines and two Navy corpsmen during its seven-month deployment to Al Anbar province, and while the headlines may have faded for the many, the memory of those lost brothers burns brightly for the few.
A group of Marines currently and formerly in the 3/25, has organized an ambitious Memorial Day weekend event, a 106-mile run that will begin on Saturday at 7 a.m. at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Va.
They’ll run north on Route 1 and with a schedule based on a 13-minute mile, the runners expect to be in Fredericksburg at approximately 5 p.m., in Quantico around 9 p.m., with a projected finish-line crossing around 7 a.m. on Sunday.
They hope to see at lot of people along the route – runners, walkers and flag wavers.
The idea started as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project and they’ve already collected more than their $5,000 goal, but it has since evolved into more than that.
“Iraq affected me in a pretty significant way, my life hasn’t been the same since then,” former Lance Cpl. Joe Shearer said of that 2005 deployment. He got out of the Corps in 2008 and works now as in security.
The project of organizing the run and getting back in touch with his old battle buddies has had a cleansing effect.
“I had some … issues early on and this [project]has helped me a lot, just reconnecting with the Marines.”
One of Shearer’s fellow organizers, Nathan Huffman, who left the Corps as a sergeant in 2007, said it’s frustrates him to see Memorial Day treated by the masses as “a summertime kick-off for beach season.”
Huffman said he would like to see people take more of their time off to honor the fallen. The run through the neighborhoods and communities along Route 1 is meant to raise that awareness.
“We want people to look at us and see what we’re doing and maybe take 15 minutes out of their day to remember the fallen,” said Huffman, who has been training for the run but probably won’t be making it because his wife just gave birth to their first baby.
“We’re focused on the 48 who died in Iraq, but this run is for every Marine, every soldier, every sailor and every airman who has died,” said Huffman, a Richmond police officer.
Several officers from the Richmond Police Department, including some former members of the 3/25 who are on the force, will provide a police escort from Richmond to Arlington.
Donate money by going to the group’s Facebook page “Memorial Day 100” or join them on the run, even if it’s for 15 minutes.