U.S. airmen walk through Liberty County en route to Florida to honor fallen

US Air Force Master Sgt. Pat McGrath (left) and US Air Force Technical Sgt. Daniel Cutrell march through Liberty County, Texas, as part of a 830-mile ruck from Texas to Florida to honor the 20 Air Force Special Tactics airmen killed in action since 9/11.

Twenty Special Tactics Airmen will ruck from Medina Annex at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to Hurlburt Field in Okaloosa County, Fla., to honor the 20 Special Tactics Airmen who have been killed in action since 9/11.

The Special Tactics airmen departed Medina Annex on Feb. 22 and are scheduled to arrive at Hurlburt Field on March 4.

Special Tactics airmen begin their training at Medina Annex, together, and become combat-ready upon graduation of the Special Tactics Training Squadron at Hurlburt Field, thus the march route mimics the training passage the airmen endure. The journey takes the airmen across five states and 830 miles.

Historically, Air Force Special Tactics plans a memorial march when a member is killed in action. This is the 5th Special Tactics Memorial March since 2009 and since it originated as the “Tim Davis Memorial March.” The march was renamed to honor all fallen Special Tactics Airmen in 2011 to the “Special Tactics Memorial March.”

The ruck marchers are composed of 10 teams of two Special Tactics airmen. These airmen began the march by rucking the first 4.7 miles together.

From there, each team will ruck an average of 12 miles per leg and alternate teams. Each day, the teams will ruck a combined 70 miles to complete the 830-mile journey over 11 days.

A memorial baton inscribed with each of the fallen Special Tactics airman’s names will be carried throughout the way to honor the fallen:

  • Master Sgt. William McDaniel of Greenville, Ohio, Special Tactics Pararescueman, Feb. 22, 2002
  • Staff Sgt. Juan Ridout of Oak Harbor, Wa., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Feb. 22, 2002
  • Master Sgt. John Chapman of Windsor Locks, Conn., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Mar. 4, 2002
  • Senior Airman Jason Cunningham of Camarillo, Calif., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Mar. 4, 2002
  • Staff Sgt. Scott Sather of Clio, Mich., Special Tactics Combat Controller, April 8, 2003
  • Capt. Derek Argel of Lompoc, Calif., Special Tactics Officer, May 30, 2005
  • Capt. Jeremy Fresques of Clarksdale, Ariz., Special Tactics Officer, May 30, 2005
  • Staff Sgt. Casey Crate of Spanaway, Wash., Special Tactics Combat Controller, May 30, 2005
  • Senior Airman Adam Servais of Onalaska, Wis., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Aug. 19, 2006
  • Technical Sgt. Scott Duffman of Albuquerque, N.M., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Feb. 18, 2007
  • Technical Sgt. William Jefferson of Norfolk, Va., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Mar. 22, 2008
  • Staff Sgt. Timothy Davis of Aberdeen, Wash., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Feb. 20, 2009
  • Senior Airman Daniel Sanchez of El Paso, Texas, Special Tactics Combat Controller, Sep. 16, 2010
  • Senior Airman Mark Forester of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Sep. 29, 2010
  • Technical Sgt. John Brown of Tallahassee, Special Tactics Pararescueman, Aug. 6, 2011
  • Technical Sgt. Daniel Zerbe of York, Pa., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Aug. 6, 2011
  • Staff Sgt. Andrew Harvell of Long Beach, Calif., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Aug. 6, 2011
  • Capt. Matthew Roland of Lexington, Ky., Special Tactics Officer, Aug. 26, 2015
  • Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley of Pensacola, Special Tactics Combat Controller, Aug. 26, 2015
  • Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin of Hookstown, Pa., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Nov. 27, 2018

Today, there are about 1,000 Special Tactics operators who combine the core skills of special operations forces with the tactical integration of the world’s greatest airpower, working to find unique solutions to ground problems. They are the most decorated community in the Air Force since the end of the Vietnam War, with one Medal of Honor, 10 Air Force Crosses and 44 Silver Stars.

Special Tactics is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air and ground integration force, and the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading Global Access, Precision Strike, Personnel Recovery and Battlefield Surgery operations on the battlefield.

A disciplined special operations force of hand-selected Airmen leading joint operations, Special Tactics Airmen are deliberate in their thoughts and actions to deliver solutions to the nation’s most complex military challenges. They conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars.

For live updates and to track the Special Tactics memorial ruck march, please go to: http://raceday.me/v/75ea11

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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