We’ve made it close to the halfway point, still at an increased pace. The Special Tactics Airmen have experienced heat, mosquitoes, blisters and good ol’ Southern hospitality.
Picked up some runners on our way past Reeves High School, whose 4H club came out to cheer us on. It’s always fun to meet some people who are just excited about America as we are.
It was starting to feel like Groundhog Day when it came to the grueling pace, the compounding blisters and the 12.6 miles, over and over again. The ST Airmen get into a groove, focused on pushing through discomfort and blocking pain. They’ve got a job to do, and it’s to bring these batons representing fallen teammates home to their families.
A man saw the ST Airmen walking along the road on the way home, and mentioned it to his mother. She told him about the encounter she had with she had with a man in red shirt and fatigue pants, buying a surprisingly large amount of sport drinks. Realizing they had seen different parts of the same team, they decided it was meant to be…so they spent the next four hours preparing a huge vat of traditional Louisiana dish in his cast iron. We got the call from the police that someone was coming to our hotel with food for us at a certain time. We felt blessed, but had no idea what was in store for us. At the end, the bottom of the large pot was scraped clean, and we were full of amazing food and incredible humility for the kindness of strangers.
Then we had another surprise: the mother of a fallen Army soldier, who had perished in a helicopter crash four months ago right outside of Hurlburt Field (Special Tactics’ headquarters), drove many miles to honor our recent loss with her family as the ST Airmen ran past.
These moments reinforce the fact that we are blessed to serve a country where strangers are treated like family, and family is never forgotten.