CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
More than 500 U.S. Marines and deployed troops participated in a 5-kilometer memorial run to honor the life and service of Maj. Megan McClung at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Aug. 13.
McClung, a public affairs officer, was the first female Marine Corps officer to die in combat in Iraq. She was killed Dec. 6, 2006, by an improvised explosive device in Al Anbar province, where she served with I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Lt. Cmdr. Rachel Oden graduated with McClung from the United States Naval Academy in 1995. Oden, a physical therapist with the Concussion Restoration Care Clinic on Camp Leatherneck, organized the memorial run here with the help of other volunteers.
“To be able to say I knew her and to be here doing something to honor her memory and all the good things she did is a big honor for me,” said Oden, a native of Casa Grande, Ariz. “Megan was a big runner. She was an avid athlete and tri-athlete. It’s just something she loved doing.”
In 2002 while serving as a public affairs officer with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, McClung was named as athlete of the year for Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
During her yearlong deployment to Iraq, which ultimately ended in her death, McClung helped to organize a variant of the Marine Corps Marathon for deployed troops. She also ran in the race, finishing second amongst female competitors.
The first memorial run in McClung’s honor was held in 2007 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., near her parents’ home in Coupeville. The race has been carried on annually in Washington, with deployed troops simultaneously participating in Iraq in 2009, and Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011.
“There was a memorial run last year on Leatherneck and her folks are putting together a run in her hometown this weekend as well,” said Oden. “People around the world are running to honor her memory. I would love for us to continue this tradition.”
“It’s always great to run in memory of someone,” said Master Sgt. Michael Noble, the senior enlisted advisor for Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, and a native of Suffolk, Va. “The amount of people that ran today for her is great.”
Prior to the start of the race at Camp Leatherneck, Oden asked for any runners who knew McClung to raise their hands. Dozens responded.
“There were quite a few people that knew Megan and even more that know her story,” said Oden. “The fact that her spirit is still alive and inspiring people is awesome.”
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