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From left to right, Sgt. Adrian Howard takes the baton from Cpl. Ryan Bennett and Cpl. Rene Granados at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Nov. 9. The Marines, deployed with Marine Air Support Squadron 1, are taking part in the Chieftain Run. Every year the squadron conducts a run in 30-minute shifts for 24 hours straight to honor fallen brethren.

Photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

Marines carry on traditions, honor fallen in Afghanistan

10 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

Over the course of a single day, Marines deployed with Marine Air Support Squadron 1 ran a combined 144 miles in Afghanistan, Nov. 9.

Gripping a carved wooden baton emblazoned with the squadron’s logo, the deployed detachment’s men and women proudly ran the dusty streets of Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, carrying with them a tradition of sacrifice and remembrance that has lasted 14 years.

“It started in 1997 after Cpl. Hall was taken from us,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Eric C. Frazier, the direct air support center chief for the detachment.

Cpl. Donald L. Hall died in a car accident March 27, 1997. In November of that year the squadron began its tradition of a Chieftain Run, running in 30-minute shifts for 24 hours straight in honor of their fallen brother.

When Staff Sgt. James Bryson Jr., another of the squadron’s Marines, was killed March 14, 2006, the Chieftain Run became an opportunity for the squadron to honor him as well.

“It’s designed to remember those Marines and build camaraderie within the unit,” said Frazier, a Hinton, W.Va., native who has spent more than half of his 19-year Marine Corps career with the squadron.

Thousands of miles away at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., the garrison element of Marine Air Support Squadron 1 carried a similar baton, running the same hours and the shifts on the same day.

“It’s a reminder that we’re all one squadron, and this is something we can do together,” said Capt. Andrea Goeman, the officer-in-charge of the detachment in Afghanistan, and a native of Byron Center, Mich.

Sgt. Adrian Howard, the deployed detachment’s maintenance chief, and a Nashville, Tenn., native, participated in his first Chieftain Run.

“We’re a tightly-knit, close unit,” Howard said. “It’s great to have as a reminder of why we do the things we do.”

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