Fallen TACP Airmen honored with 24-hour run

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The only visible light was a small flame as it crackled under the cold night sky in Germany. Acting as a lantern in the void, it lured a small group of Airmen shrouding them from an intense chill which has taken hold of the land.

Gathered around the fire, weathered from exhaustion, they share their memories filling the air around them with laughter, amusement and compassion. Memories of friends, family and for the reason they were brought together, their fallen comrades.

The 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron organized and participated in a 24-hour run on Grafenwoehr, Germany, March 27 to 28 where they spent time with family and friends in memory of fallen tactical air control party Airmen.

"We came together to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Pollock, 2nd ASOS joint terminal attack controller instructor. "We have guys participating worldwide; from Korea and Afghanistan to the states, our guys are participating in any way they can to show their respect."

Though physical fitness was how they honored their fallen, it was no ordinary run. During those 24 hours not a moment went by where there wasn't at least one TACP Airman on the track, some ended up running for 12 hours before the event finished.

"As a team we ran more than 800 miles," said Senior Airman Matthew Smith, 2nd ASOS JTAC. "We were able to achieve this because we are a close-knit community, whenever someone wanted to go run we would grab someone else to come with us. No matter what we are doing we work as a team."

As one of the true front-line combat jobs in the Air Force, TACP specialists are known for their ability to bring overwhelming firepower in the form of air strikes. They face ongoing dangers in the battlefield working alongside some of the military's most elite special operations teams as well as all Brigade Combat Teams.

Once the memorial run concluded the TACP Airmen stood frozen together in formation anticipating the playing of the National Anthem. As they looked forward, a plaque holding six photographs could be seen standing in front of them. As the anthem rang through the air all was still as they rendered salutes to their brothers who gave everything for their country.