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Run for the Fallen honors
military heroes and families
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Candice King presents an Honor & Remember Flag to Georgia Brunson York
and family members during a special ceremony in Ellaville. It was in remembrance
of Ms. York's brother, Spc. Jacques Brunson, who was killed in Iraq.
-- more photos here --


Ellaville resident Sharon Wall, holding photos of her father, Pfc. John Walter Lucas, who was declared MIA in
1945 and never found, was one
of the special honorees.

From the Oct. 6, 2021 issue
of The Journal

By Richard Harris
   Candice King, a Gold Star Mom with a passion for honoring the fallen, guided patriotic runners and bikers on a 164-mile trek along Georgia roads, October 1-3, stopping roughly every mile to honor service men and women from Georgia who died in service from October 12, 2000 to the present.
   The odyssey began at Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Milledgeville and passed thru several local towns – Ellaville, Buena Vista, Cusseta – before culminating at the Global War on Terrorism Memorial at the Infantry Museum in Fort Benning.
   At each hero marker, the runners and support crew stopped to read the name, rank, branch, and date of death for each hero being honored at that location (with more than 700 names read aloud before it was all over). As each name was spoken, volunteers held large American and Honor & Remember flags high, while another volunteer lifted smaller flags to the sky and then touched them to the ground.
   Family members were present at some of the stops, making those ceremonies even more special.
   One such ceremony was conducted in Ellaville's Blue Star Memorial Park, where family members of Army Spc. Jacques E. Brunson were present. A member of the Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, he died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an explosive device detonated while he was on patrol.
   Ellaville resident Sharon Wall was recognized at the event's special "All Wars POW/MIA" marker. He was there in memory of her father, Pfc John Walter Lucas, MIA since 1945.
   Such ceremonies to honor the fallen and their families are what makes it all worthwhile for the participants.
   "It's been a humbling experience and it's an honor to be a part of this entire experience," said Air Force veteran Steve Aylwsworth, who retired as a master sergeant after 28 years. "The ceremonies with the families are heartbreaking. It will touch you – very emotional."
   Elizabeth Gearheart, who husband is a retired Army colonel, has been involved in



For Those
Who Can't
several of the events. While she's currently a runner, she thinks honoring the fallen is important enough that she will "probably be doing this forever and when I can't run any more, I'll help in other ways."
   Christine Braaten doesn't normally log a lot of miles, as she participates in a running group only a couple of days per week. However, when the Navy veteran heard about the event just 1 ½ days prior to its start, something made her sign up. Now, in spite of the aches and pains from pounding the pavement for three days straight, she's glad she did.
   "I've never trained for something like this and next year if I do it again, I will definitely train more," she said. "It's been a tear-jerking experience when families show up and you meet people who have lost their sons and daughters and family members. It is emotional."
   While most of the runners were veterans, everyone was welcome to join. Larry Carpenter of Roberta noted that he didn't serve in the military, but that just gave him one more reason to want to do something to honor those who did – especially those who paid the ultimate price. He's now an experienced participant, having run the Florida event once and now the Georgia one twice.
   "It's always fun," he said. "The people, the camaraderie, the warm feeling in your heart when you run with the flag and you pay tribute to the fallen heroes. It's always a great feeling – no matter how much the legs hurt."
   In addition to the runners who log so many miles, another group of volunteers play a very big role in Run for the Fallen. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group ride ahead of them, stopping at each hero marker to cheer the runners as they approach and to hold flags during the ceremonies.
   Doug Brawner of Gray was one of the many riders. He said he just wanted to be part of the cause. As a Patriot Guard Rider, he's used to honoring – and helping – veterans and their families. The group is most known for attending funerals of veterans, but they also help those still living, by building decks and ramps, and in a variety of other ways.
   Robert DeJarnette, clad in biker leather an attire, possibly summed it up best after Gold Star Mom Linda Lamie thanked him by pinning her son's picture on his shirt and hanging his dog tags around your neck. He said, "You stand still and you praise God for dark glasses."
   Of course, the heart and soul of the event was Director Candice King, who spent most of the time sitting on a truck tailgate, giving encouragement and instructions to all involved. She lost her son, SPC Ryan Charles King, who was inspired to serve in the Army after 9-11, in Afghanistan on May 1, 2009.
   Run for the Fallen is very special to her.
   "As a Gold Star Mom, it means so much to know someone somewhere remembers my son for the hero he was and always will be," said King, noting that she knows others feel the same way.
   She also notes that this is an annual event and volunteers are always needed, as well as donations to pay for supplies. Runners and non-runners alike are encouraged to make plans to join them next October. For more information visit georgia.usarunforthefallen.org. You can also find them on Facebook by searching "Georgia Run for the Fallen."
   For photos and videos of day three of Run for the Fallen, visit tjournal.smugmug.com.