Skip to comments.Naval Academy Grads Salute Fallen Classmates at Marine Marathon (On the eve of US Navy Anniversary)
Posted on 10/26/2007 5:09:17 PM PDT by SandRat
| WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2007 Nearly 100 U.S. Naval Academy graduates from the class of 1995 are dedicating their participation in the Oct. 28 Marine Corps Marathon to the memory of six fallen comrades.
A group of us came together looking for a way to honor these six classmates that weve lost, Webb explained at a special reception honoring the departed classmates held here yesterday.
The Marine Corps Marathon was a good fit, because we have a lot of connections to the marathon with our class, said Webb, who now is a banker in Philadelphia. This years marathon, he noted, will be the fourth one he has participated in.
Class of 95 comrades saluted in the Run to Honor died between 1998 and 2007, Webb said, adding that they constitute the highest operations-related loss of any Naval Academy class since the Vietnam War. The fallen are:
-- Marine Maj. Douglas A. Zembiec, 35, who was killed in action on May 11, 2007, while fighting insurgents in Baghdad. He is renowned as the Lion of Fallujah for his actions during combat operations against terrorists during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004.
-- Marine Maj. Megan M. McClung, 34, who died in Anbar province, Iraq, on Dec. 6, 2006. She was posted in Iraq as a public affairs officer working with embedded reporters. McClung died when the vehicle she was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. McClung is the most-senior Marine woman to be killed in Iraq to date. About a month before her death, McClung organized and participated in an Iraq-based version of the annual Marine Corps Marathon.
-- Navy Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen, 33, a special warfare operations officer, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. Kristensen was on a mission to rescue other SEALs when the MH-47 Chinook helicopter he was riding in was shot down by insurgents in Kunar province. He was among the 16 Navy and Army members aboard who died.
-- Navy Lt. Richard S. Pugh, 31, an F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot, who died in the line of duty on Aug. 10, 2001, when his aircraft crashed into the Bay of Bengal during a night-training mission from the carrier USS Constellation.
-- Navy Lt. Bruce J. Donald, 27, an F/A-18 Hornet fighter pilot, who died in the line of duty on Sept. 29, 2000, when his aircraft crashed into the Persian Gulf shortly after takeoff from the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
-- Lt. j.g. Brendan J. Duffy, 27, who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 8, 1998, during a night-landing training mission on board the USS Enterprise. The carrier was en route to the Middle East to participate in Operation Desert Fox. Between Dec. 16 and 19, 1998, U.S. aircraft-dropped bombs and ship-launched missiles struck targets in Iraq in a military effort to deter then-dictator Saddam Hussein.
I would say I knew Major Zembiec the best when he attended the Naval Academy, Webb recalled. We just wanted to find a more celebratory atmosphere to celebrate their lives, their leadership and their legacy.
Other servicemembers, families and friends will bring the total number of Run to Honor participants to about 175 people, entered in the marathon or the 10-kilometer event, Webb said.
Financial services company United Services Automobile Association, known as USAA, sponsored the reception for the Run to Honor participants, said John Hancock, the firms military communications manager. USAA is a supporter of the Defense Departments America Supports You public-outreach program that connects citizens, businesses and other organizations with ways to support servicemembers and their families.
Hosting the Run to Honor reception is way to recognize the sacrifices made by Americas servicemen and women, Hancock explained. People need to remain aware of what our servicemembers are going through, he said.
Webb said his departed classmates would be cheered by the determination evidenced by military members engaged in the global war on terrorism. Todays good military recruiting and retention numbers, he pointed out, constitute a testament to the commitment and the sense of duty that our servicemembers have.
Dr. Mike McClung and his wife, Dr. Re McClung, and retired Navy Rear Adm. Edward Kristensen and his wife, Suzanne Kristensen, were among the guests who attended yesterdays Run to Honor reception. McClung recalled that his daughter, Megan, was really involved in being a Marine, adding that she died doing the job she wanted to do.
She made a great sacrifice, and we lost a wonderful child, he continued. Were very honored by what the class of 95 is doing for her.
Suzanne Kristensen said she couldnt be more pleased or thrilled about how Eriks classmates are honoring his sacrifice and memory.
Erik left us with wonderful friends, she emphasized.
Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Giovanna Kostrubala, another member of the class of 95, said she was a personal friend of Erik Kristensen and Megan McClung during their days at the academy.
Megans mom has her laugh and mannerisms, Kostrubala observed at the reception. Thats one of my favorite things about whats going on this weekend, because I get to meet the parents of all of the children.
Col. David Lapan, the Marine Corps deputy director of public affairs, saluted Webb and the others for their devotion to the memory of their fallen classmates.
Its great any time that people come together and stop and pay tribute to those who have given their lives in service to the country, Lapan said.
Echoing Lapans sentiments, Mike McClung noted that it is important for Americans to recognize and appreciate the sacrifices made by the men and women in the armed forces.
Theyre out protecting us, and we need to support them, he emphasized.
Marine Corps Marathon
U.S. Naval Academy
U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1995 Memorial
America Supports You
God bless them all -
My son will be also running in this marathon. He is USNA Class of 2008 (graduates in May.)
He indicated that the registration opens around May - and the more than 30,000 slots get filled up within a few weeks. He got his slot because another Mid had to drop out due to some last minute problem.
This event is listed as the 4th largest marathon in the U.S. (and the largest that has no prize money ...just the honor of running with the Marines!!!)
Historical info here:
Congratulations to parents and this fine young man.
Humbeled. Truly humbled by the devotion of those in uniform.
Wasn’t there an entire Marine outfit that ran this event as a unit some time back?
By Jove! I think you are right.
Maryland “Freak State” PING!
Thanks for the ping. God bless them all.
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