MILITARY MATTERS: Georgia Run For The Fallen finishes in Columbus and Fort Benning

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 9:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Over the weekend, a group teamed up to run more than 150 miles in the Georgia Run For The Fallen. We were there as they arrived at the finish line in Columbus, and so were some family members of heroes who died fighting for our country.

Finishing their 164 mile journey, running for 2 1/2 days through the Peach State, they chanted: “Why do we run? Because we can!”

It’s all to call attention to the nearly 800 military service members with ties to Georgia who died while serving since October 2000. For these runners, it’s personal.

“My dad was in the Vietnam in the Army. My grandfather was a World War II Navy veteran. My brother was in special forces,” said runner coordinator Amber King, whose father’s friend was killed in action.

GA Run for the Fallen director Candice King said, “I lost my son, Specialist Ryan King on May 1, 2009 in Afghanistan.”

This Gold Star mom, as director of the 3rd annual event, said they started running at the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Milledgeville, and the group finished at the Global War on Terrorism Memorial at the National Infantry Museum next to Fort Benning.

Each 0.8-1 mile of the long route, the run team stopped at a “Hero Marker” to pay tribute to waiting family members of fallen heroes.

“Their memory is still alive as long as there’s someone speaking their name,” Candice King said.

Parents, like the ones who lost their son SPC Frederick Jenkins III of Columbus in 2015, received Honor and Remember Flags, personalized with their fallen hero’s name on it.

“It’s just phenomenal. These runners come in from all over the United States, and they dedicate their time and their physical abilities to the fallen, it’s an honor...I don’t have the words,” Gold Star Mom Lisa Jenkins said.

Talking about the pain and persistence of running all those miles, Air Force Reservist & GA Run For the Fallen participant Michael Taylor said. “It’s not in comparison to the pain and suffering of losing a loved one.”

“How do these families push on? And if they can push on, we can too,” Candice King said.

“It takes a lot of diligence, a lot of courage, team effort to get through all those miles. It’s a lot of heaviness as we think about having a memorial each mile marker,” Amber King said.

“The 1st mile, when I got to read the mile marker, and see the family of the fallen, man the emotions hit and that’s what’s driven me back,” said Taylor, a runner who’s served in the military for 28 years.

And to each Gold Star family they honor, the Georgia Run For The Fallen crew again gives a special Honor and Remember flag, for their “patriot’s unwavering dedication and selfless service.”

“I know I fly mine on my son’s birthday. I fly it on the anniversary of his death,” Candice King said.

Patriot Riders escorted them along the way. Georgia is one of about 20 states with these Runs for the Fallen.

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