Special Operations 812-mile memorial march reaches Keesler Monday

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Eighteen special tactics Airmen began an 812-mile trek Sunday, Oct. 16, from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas and the team is expected to pass in front of Keesler on highway 90 at White Ave. on Oct. 24 at approximately 10 a.m.

The team relaying through five states, averaging 12.5 miles per leg. Each three-man team will walk approximately 144 miles during the trek, carrying a 50-pound ruck sack and a commemorative baton engraved with a fallen special tactics Airman's name.

Nearly 40 Special Tactics instructors and students from Keesler will march several miles with the team Monday. The Air Force's Special Tactics teams consist of airmen from three different career fields: Combat Controllers, Pararescuemen, and Special Operations Weathermen. Each of these special operations career fields requires specialized intensive training. Combat Controller students receive 15.5 weeks of Air Traffic Control training here.

The 18 team members will reunite in Wynnhaven Beach, Fla. on Oct. 26. They will march the final 4.6 miles with surviving family members of the 17 fallen special tactics Airmen, a few wounded Airmen and members of the local Hurlburt Field community. The march will end at the Special Tactics Training Squadron on Hurlburt Field at 2:30 p.m.

Event organizers, Capt. Dan Breiding and retired Chief Master Sgt. Steven Haggett, said the team hopes to rally supporters throughout the trek who want to march beside them for this worthy cause.

"This is an event to commemorate fallen members of Air Force Special Tactics and honor their families," said Breiding. "These men paid the ultimate price to defend our freedoms and we hope to educate everyone along the way of their sacrifices. It's not just about the men; it is also about the families and communities who support these warriors. This march is one way to show that these men may be gone but they are never, ever forgotten."