721st APS Airmen honor fallen comrades

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen conduct a memorial run on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The event is part of a tradition in the aerial port career field, in which aerial port squadrons conduct memorial runs to honor their fallen colleagues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen conduct a memorial run on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The event is part of a tradition in the aerial port career field, in which aerial port squadrons conduct memorial runs to honor their fallen colleagues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen conduct a memorial run on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The event was held in honor of four aerial port Airmen who lost their lives over the past year in bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen conduct a memorial run on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The event was held in honor of four aerial port Airmen who lost their lives over the past year in bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

A memorial run participant wears a commemorative t-shirt bearing the names of fallen aerial port Airmen on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Airmen of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron held a memorial run in honor of four of their colleagues who died over the past year in separate duty locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

A memorial run participant wears a commemorative t-shirt bearing the names of fallen aerial port Airmen on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Airmen of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron held a memorial run in honor of four of their colleagues who died over the past year in separate duty locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen bow their heads in prayer during as they prepare for a memorial run on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The Airmen honored four of their colleagues from different bases who lost their lives over the past year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen bow their heads in prayer during as they prepare for a memorial run on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The Airmen honored four of their colleagues from different bases who lost their lives over the past year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

Name tapes of fallen aerial port Airmen are attached to a banner during a memorial ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Airmen of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron held a memorial run in honor of four of their colleagues who died over the past year in separate duty locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

Name tapes of fallen aerial port Airmen are attached to a banner during a memorial ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Airmen of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron held a memorial run in honor of four of their colleagues who died over the past year in separate duty locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen conduct a memorial ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017, for four aerial port Airmen who died over the past year. Airmen of the 721st APS hold an annual memorial run to commemorate their fallen colleagues from different bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

721st Aerial Port Squadron Airmen conduct a memorial ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017, for four aerial port Airmen who died over the past year. Airmen of the 721st APS hold an annual memorial run to commemorate their fallen colleagues from different bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Airmen of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron conducted an annual memorial run on Ramstein Air Base, May 19, 2017.

The run honors Airmen in the aerial port career field who lost their lives within the past year in incidents across the Air Force.

“We’re showing them that we are a family,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Alessandrini, 721st Aerial Port Squadron air transportation standard evaluation program evaluator. “It’s not just a job. This is what we do day in and day out but we’re people and we put family first,” Alessandrini continued.

The memorial run began with a ceremony honoring Master Sgts. William Russ and Kelly Bartholomew, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Turner, and Airman 1st Class Russell De Leon.

While the runners were met with inclement weather, Alessandrini said it only added to the emotions of the event.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or shining, we’re going to do this to respect our port dawgs,” Alessandrini said, using a popular nickname for aerial port Airmen. “It’s a somber event because we’re remembering our fallen friends. It just adds that effect to it when it rains.”

Alessandrini said these traditions illustrates the camaraderie between aerial port Airmen, even if they are from different bases. The small size of their career field helps magnify the sense of community aerial port Airmen have, he said.

“There’s not that many of us,” said Alessandrini. “Odds are that somebody at your base knows one of the people that passed away because we’re such a small career field. We’ve always been a close-knit bunch.”