GATLINBURG, Tenn., April 18, 2010 – The 116th Air Control Wing became the first ever Georgia Air National Guard unit to send a team to the Mountain Man Memorial March, held in Gatlinburg, Tenn. to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in combat.
The MMMM is a yearly event, this being its third year, and it is sponsored by the University of Tennessee’s ROTC program and the U.S. Army ROTC. Participants can compete in several events: the 6.5, 13.1 or 26.2 mile marches, and each march has both a light and heavy category. The heavy category requires duty uniform, ATSO gear and a 35-pound rucksack with two canteens.
Each heavy category full-course team sponsored a Gold Star Soldier who was killed in action. Each team carried a photo, bio and Gold Star flag of their sponsored KIA soldier, sailor, marine or airman. At the completion of the ruck-march, the photo, bio and flag (signed by each team member) is presented as a token to the Gold Star mother.
The 116th ACW team sponsored Capt. Dixon L. Walters, who was shot down (along with the other members of his AC-130 crew) over Kuwait Jan. 31, 1991.
The 116th team checked in at the course at 7:00 a.m. and ate breakfast; the march started at 9:00 a.m. with several hundred participants. Most participants were ROTC and JROTC. There were also one USMC Team, two teams from McGhee-Tyson ANG Base (tankers and security forces) and a several U.S. Army teams. This was the first year that a Georgia Air National Guard team participated, and they completed the march in 10 hours and 48 minutes.
Master Sgt. Charles Van Hoy met the team at each rest point with requested items (Powerade, food, other support as requested), and he provided other team support. To move quickly along the course, Van Hoy used a motorcycle with travel bags to navigate through heavy tourist area traffic.
The course consisted of grades up to 9% with 1,200-foot terrain elevation changes. The team was comprised of Guardsmen, Active Duty and Ready Reserve components.
From left to right: Staff Sgt. Matt Wight, Airman 1st Class Kurt Van Hoy, Tech Sgt. Jay Messer, Staff Sgt. Ben Johnson and Master Sgt. Jonathon Crosier
Photo and story by Mater Sgt. Charles R. Van Hoy
116 Air Control Wing
Georgia Air National Guard
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