Control Memorial March
AF Special Tactics Relay Teams Honor Their Fallen
Airman Walk, Jog, Run 860 Miles to Florida
|Click Here to visit the homepage for the Marchers and complete information about their mission.|
|Click below to watch video, compliments of the Brown's||"Chappy was on my team when he
was killed," said Dixon of John A.
Chapman. Of William Jefferson, Huhman said, "We spent our first four
years in the Air Force together, pretty close friends."
The trainees who joined them are aiming for AF special tactics, an elite group that include Combat Controllers, certified air traffic controllers who are there with special operations military teams if they get in trouble.
"We provide air support to get us out," Huhman said.
He organized the Walk for the Fallen that began last year with an 812-mile march across the U.S.
Other than citizens who urge them on along the way, Huhman said the most emotional moments are when the families of the fallen and the severely wounded join them in the final five miles.
He said "the appreciation you get from the families" is beyond words.
|Fifteen local airmen will begin marching to Florida today, inviting others to join them in a tribute to lost comrades.|
Master Sgt. Kenneth Huhman, march organizer, said the 860-mile walk will be done “Forrest Gump style,” as depicted in the 1994 Tom Hanks film, as it starts in San Antonio on the way to Houston; New Orleans; Mobile, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; and finally Hurlburt Field, east of Pensacola.
Last year's inaugural Special Tactics Memorial March took nine days. This one is expected to last 12 days, ending Oct. 21.
“This year, we're slowing the pace for a little more community involvement,” Huhman said. “People can walk with us for a mile or two. They can honor someone they've lost personally.”
The airmen, special tactics operators in camouflage pants and gray T-shirts, will march in two- and three-person teams in five states. They'll average 15 to 20 miles per leg, each carrying a 50-pound rucksack and a baton bearing a fallen airman's name.
Surviving family members will join all 15 airmen for the final five-mile leg.
The group will march in memory of 14 special tactics airmen, including two killed in recent weeks. Senior Airmen Daniel Sanchez of El Paso and Mark Forester of Tuscaloosa, Ala., died in separate incidents in Afghanistan.
The march also will promote the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which gives assistance and scholarships to children of special operations troops from all military services who died in service.
Jefferson and Davis both died in Afghanistan. Like the others being honored, they were in special operations, which includes ground-to-air Combat Control and pararescue.
Although the first few days will be difficult, Huhman said, the blisters and soreness likely will fade for the marchers. When they reach the final leg, they'll be filled with joy, pride and a torrent of other feelings as they're joined by surviving family members, he said.
“It's impossible to describe what it's like to see the emotions of the spouses, parents and children as we march with them and present them with the batons,” Huhman said.
The march is to start at noon at the Combat Control Selection Course at Lackland AFB's Medina Base Annex and leave the main base at the Growdon Road gate about 1:30 p.m. It will reach downtown about 4 p.m. An advance team plans a 3 p.m. meet-and-greet at the Alamo.
|10/2/2009 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas
(AFNS) -- Before
dawn breaks Oct. 6, 12 Airmen will begin a memorial ruck sack march in
honor of 12 fallen special tactics teammates killed in Iraq and
Afghanistan. An estimated 824 miles later, on Oct. 16, the Airmen will
arrive at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
|Together, the 12 Airmen will
leave the Lackland Training Annex at 5 a.m. and march through the base
before exiting Kelly Field and breaking out into two-man relay teams.
Five of the teams will rest while the sixth continues the march, taking
turns for the next 800-plus miles. The 12 Airmen will reunite in
Florida, completing the final five miles as a team.
Surviving family members of the 12 fallen Airmen will gather at the Hurlburt Field gate to join the team on their final mile to the Special Tactics Memorial, the dedicated site for an Oct. 17 ceremony honoring Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, a Combat Controller killed in February in Afghanistan.
"I feel very honored," said Sally Sheldon, Sergeant Davis' mother. "They've been so good to me and I'm very proud of all these young men. They've made me a part of their family; someone is always calling to check on me."
Mrs. Sheldon, who lives in Washington state, plans to fly into Hurlburt Field Oct. 15 with her daughter and son, Noel and Ben. The three will walk the last mile of the march.
Sergeant Huhman said there is special significance to starting the march at Lackland and ending it in Florida. Special tactics training begins here and Combat Controllers complete their training at Hurlburt before joining their team, he said.
Pictured; Left is Sam Schindler and Right is Ken Huhman.
Go to walkforthefallen.com for more information.
10/9/2010 - LACKLAND
AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Fifteen
special tactics Airmen carrying 50-pound rucksacks departed from here
Oct. 9 on a mission to honor the memories of their fallen comrades.
The 860-mile trek, known as the Tim Davis Special Tactics Memorial March, will stretch across five states and will consist of six teams walking 24 hours a day, in a relay format.
"We're conducting a walk honoring the guys that we've lost overseas," said Master Sgt. Kenneth Huhman, the chief of the Combat Control selection course at Lackland Air Force Base and the coordinator for the march. "We did it last year in honor of (Staff Sgt.) Tim Davis, (a fallen special tactics Airman), and we named it the Tim Davis Special Tactics Memorial March. This year will be our second year doing it. Our goal is to obviously honor the ones we've lost, to build awareness of Combat Control and pararescue, and to let everyone know that the Air Force has ground troops that actually go into harm's way."
While having the same destination and
purpose as last year's event, this year's walk will incorporate several
changes, Sergeant Huhman said.
"We've slowed the pace down a little bit from last year," he said. "One, so that we're not going so fast, and two, this time we kind of want to make it like a 'Forrest Gump' style. And what I mean by that is anybody who wants to come out and help us honor our 14 (Airmen) that we've lost is more than welcome to. Or, (they are welcome) to come out and honor somebody else that they've lost. The only thing is they'll have to support their own transportation from the beginning to ... where they end up walking. But, we'd love to have them out there."
The 14 Airmen being remembered are special tactics Airmen who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The two most recent special tactics Airmen to lose their lives in the line of duty are Senior Airman Mark Forester, who died Sept. 29, and Senior Airman Daniel Sanchez, who died Sept. 16.
"These past three weeks have been a hard three weeks for us," Sergeant Huhman said. "We've actually lost two gentlemen overseas -- Combat Controllers in Afghanistan -- in a week and a half to two-week period. So, it's been a little bit of a challenge, but this year's walk is going to be for them. It's still the Tim Davis Special Tactics Memorial March, but we're carrying their batons, all the fallen from last year, to include the two we've currently lost this year."
The batons carried by the marchers symbolize the memories of their fallen brethren, and will be passed from team to team as the relay progresses, and retired at the end of the march.
"Each baton has (a fallen special tactics Airman's) name engraved on it and when (he) passed," Sergeant Huhman said. "We thought of it kind of like a relay. The way the walk is going to go is there (are) six teams, and everybody walks the first five (miles), and then (they) relay the whole way, so somebody is walking 24 hours a day -- rain, sleet or snow, but hopefully not snow this time of year. Those batons are what we pass from one team to the next until they get to the end."
Sergeant Huhman, who participated in last year's walk, described the challenges of the 860-mile journey.
"The first three days, I was 'bluesing,'" he said. "Those three days were the hardest days. We had a nineteen miler and then an eighteen miler, and then a seventeen miler. But crazily, the entire team started to get stronger as we did more. I think it was just your body adapting to its environment, and the first three days, most guys were bluesing, the blisters were really bad, and people (were) just getting used to walking that distance every day, (after) getting a couple hours rest."
Even so, the end of the walk was very rewarding, Sergeant Huhman said.
"I can't even put into words how incredible the end was, the reception that we received there with the family members, the media, (Air Force Special Operations Command officials) turning out, and pretty much closing the base down to receive us. It was more than words could say."
Staff Sgt. Robert Parra, a Combat Control selection course instructor who is participating in this year's walk, said he is ready to take on the challenge.
"I'm excited to go on the walk for the fallen comrades," Sergeant Parra said. "I tried to go last year because I do have some close, personal friends who have been killed in the past couple years and I wanted to give something back to honor them."
He said he is well aware of the obstacles he and the other marchers will face along the way, but even so, he expects it to be a memorable and meaningful experience.
"Aside from the 'wanting a chair' portion, or wanting to stop for the rest of the day, I think it'll give us a lot of time when we're walking in teams (to spend) with other Combat Controllers and pararescuemen," Sergeant Parra said. "It'll give us that chance to bring up stories from the guys that we lost, and be able to remember, and be able to laugh, and reflect on things that have happened. It'll be a good (opportunity for camaraderie) for us. We'll be able to talk about things that we didn't know about each other, things that we did know about each other, and be able to recap that."
Airman Sanchez is one of the close, personal friends Sergeant Parra seeks to honor.
"I was very, very close to Airman Sanchez," Sergeant Parra said. "Not only did we hang out personally, but we were down at the same team, down at the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, and I was also one of his instructors at the squadron level. So we worked together, we played together. He was a very good student, a very good friend. I could definitely count on him."
While he mourns the loss of his comrade, Sergeant Parra said he is deeply saddened for the Airman's family.
"Of course, I feel horrible," Sergeant Parra said. "I mean, (he's) a guy I'll never get to talk to again. I'll never get to experience (with him) the things that we'll be looking forward to in our lives. I won't be involved in that part of his life anymore, and he won't be involved in mine. However, I can only feel sadness for the family, because really it's their loss. I've lost a friend and a teammate, but they've lost a son, a brother, a nephew."
Sergeant Huhman said reaching out to the families of the fallen Airmen is an important part of the walk.
"I'm really big on showing the family members that their relatives will never be forgotten, and we'll continue to honor them," he said. "We like to bring (the family members) into it too, so that they know they're still part of the family."
In addition to Sergeant Davis, Airman Forester and Airman Sanchez, the marchers will honor Master Sgt. William McDaniel, Staff Sgt. Juan Ridout, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Staff Sgt. Scott Sather, Capt. Derek Argel, Capt. Jeremy Fresques, Staff Sgt. Casey Crate, Senior Airman Adam Servais, Tech. Sgt. Scott Duffman and Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson.
The march is scheduled to conclude Oct. 21 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. and the CCA Combat Control Reunion
|Special tactics Airmen complete 800-mile march|
|10/16/2009 - HURLBURT
FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- After walking more
than 800 miles through five states, 12 special tactics Airmen
arrived here Oct. 16, officially completing a memorial march for their
The marchers, made up of several Combat Controllers and pararescuemen and one combat weatherman, split up into six two-man teams and walked day and night to honor 12 special tactics Airmen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During the march, five teams rested while one continued the march, averaging nearly 20 miles before being spelled. Each marcher carried a 50-pound ruck sack and a baton engraved with the name of a fallen special tactics Airman.
The 12 Airmen reunited just outside the base and walked the final five miles as a team.
"This walk shows that with Air Force special operations, you are never forgotten," said Master Sgt. Ken Huhman, one of the event's coordinators and a marcher from the 342nd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
|Airmen finish 860-mile trek for fallen
|Hundreds of people gathered
outside the Special Tactics Training Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Oct. 21,
to welcome the marchers. At first, it seemed like a regular homecoming: flags,
families and well-wishers thanking them for a job well done.
Each of the marching Airmen carried one or more wooden batons decorated with a small plate. The plates bore the names of fallen Airmen. For them, there would be no homecoming.
"For those who understand, no explanation is necessary," said Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Travis, Air Force Special Operations Training Center chief enlisted manager and one of the marchers in the Tim Davis Special Tactics Memorial March. "And for those who don't understand, no explanation will suffice.
"I will try to explain for those who don't: Love. Family is love. Love for family is why the men volunteer to do this."
Chief Travis carried a baton for Senior Airman Adam Servais, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, who was killed Aug. 19, 2006 in Afghanistan. His baton, like 19 others carried, represented the Airmen killed in action who couldn't be there, including Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, 23rd STS, who was killed Feb. 20, 2009. The march, an idea set forth by two special tactics Airmen, Capt. Sam Schindler and Master Sgt. Kenneth Huhman, was named in honor of Sergeant Davis after he was killed in Afghanistan.
The batons for Combat Controllers symbolized the passage through the special tactics training pipeline after Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, until the day they earned their scarlet berets at Hurlburt.
"I didn't have the honor of knowing two of the names called out, but I knew each and every other one," Chief Travis said. "Some of them were dear friends, my leaders and my Airmen. There's not a single fiber of my being that could imagine not stepping up and saying 'Yes' for my family."
He then completed his speech with a variation of the Airmen's Creed, beginning with "These are America's finest Airmen" dedicated to those the march memorialized.
"They never left an Airman behind, they did not falter, and they never failed, and, God willing, we will never fail in remembering them," Chief Travis said.
The first march, held in October, 2009, went on to involve 10 Airmen to honor the legacy of 12 of their fallen brethren. But as poignant as the event became, the following year sadly produced more tragic episodes, not only for their special tactics family, but their fellow Air Commando and pararescueman jumper warriors.
|The following names are those of the Airmen memorialized in
this year's march.
Special Tactics Airmen:
Master Sgt. William McDaniel
Staff Sgt. Juan Ridout
Tech. Sgt. John Chapman
Senior Airman Jason Cunningham
Staff Sgt. Scott Sather
Capt. Derek Argel
Capt. Jeremy Fresques
Staff Sgt. Casey Crate
Senior Airman Adam Servais
Tech. Sgt. Scott Duffman
Tech. Sgt. Will Jefferson
Staff Sgt. Tim Davis
Senior Airman Daniel Sanchez
Senior Airman Mark Forester
6th Special Operations Squadron:
Maj. Brian Downs
8th Special Operations Squadron:
Maj. Randall Voas
Senior Master Sgt. James Lackey
Air Combat Command pararescue:
1st Lt. Joel Gentz
Tech. Sgt. Michael Flores
Senior Airman Benjamin White