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Running for the fallen

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Airman with the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron hold the images of Tactical Air Control Party Airmen who have lost their lives either deployed or in training during the final mile of the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Airman with the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron hold the images of Tactical Air Control Party Airmen who have lost their lives either deployed or in training during the final mile of the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Airman with the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron hold the images of Tactical Air Control Party Airmen who have lost their lives either deployed or in training at the conclusion of the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Airman with the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron hold the images of Tactical Air Control Party Airmen who have lost their lives either deployed or in training at the conclusion of the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Lt. Col. John Blocher (front), 13th Air Support Operations Squadron commander, and squadron Airmen perform pushups in honor of fallen Tactical Air Control Party Airmen at the conclusion of the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Lt. Col. John Blocher (front), 13th Air Support Operations Squadron commander, and squadron Airmen perform pushups in honor of fallen Tactical Air Control Party Airmen at the conclusion of the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. - The 13th Air Support Operations Squadron displays the images of fallen Tactical Air Control Party Airmen during the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 23 - 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. - The 13th Air Support Operations Squadron displays the images of fallen Tactical Air Control Party Airmen during the Fifth Annual 24-hour Challenge Run at Fort Carson’s Pershing Field March 23 - 24. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Airmen and Soldiers from Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base joined together March 23 - 24 to run for 24 hours in honor of fallen Tactical Air Control Party Airmen.

Due to inclement weather, the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron hosted Fifth Annual Challenge Run started at the Peterson Air Force Base Fitness Center on treadmills and the indoor track. When the base closed early, the teams then moved to an off-installation fitness center that agreed to allow them to run on treadmills until closing time. At that time the team moved to Fort Carson's Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center and then to the planned location at Pershing Field.

"There are 31 teams across the globe that are running at the same time in support of the families of fallen TACP Airmen," said Staff. Sgt. Jake Rinker, 13th ASOS TACP and organizer for the Fort Carson event. "This is our chance to do something physical and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice."

The event held traditionally the third week in March has teams competing for most miles run and to earn a trophy that is mainly for bragging rights, said Rinker. Staff Sgt. Stephen Mynatt, 13th ASOS TACP, logged the most miles at 45 1/2 for the challenge. Approximately 391 Airmen and Soldiers from Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base logged 2,238.6 miles during the 24-hour timeframe.

"It's important we do this, (the 13th ASOS) lost an Airman (Maj. David Gray in 2012) before I got to the unit, but he had a huge influence on many in the squadron," said Senior Airman Zach Mullen, 13th ASOS TACP.

TACP specialists embed with Army and Marine units on the frontline with the responsibility of calling in an airstrike on the right target at the right time. These highly trained experts go through intense physical, mental and technical training to withstand the demanding conditions of battle and provide their team with the firepower they need for continued success on the battlefield.

"(TACP) is a unique career field in the Air Force. They are deployed as much as they are home and they put their lives on the line," said Lt. Col. John Blocher, 13th ASOS commander. "Death is much closer to them than most (in the Air Force) and honoring the fallen is very tangible to them.

"The run was a way for them to push their selves to the limits and see how far they could go as a tangible reminder of why they were running," he said. "They have a commitment to each other and the families know that they will have the arms (of the TACPs) around them if their Airman falls.

"These men are more than just Airmen, they are TACP," said Blocher.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui