Until 3 p.m. Friday, at least one Marine will be running around Fort Gordon's Barton Field in honor of the Marines and Navy corpsmen who've lost their lives in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before runners in the fourth annual Tribute to the Fallen take their place on the field, they check in at a tent where there are photographs and short biographies on the more than 1,000 Marines and Navy corpsmen who have died since fighting began in the two countries. At night, their images are projected on a large screen.
"We tell them to take a look and read the bio. You may be cold, hot or tired, but at least you get to go home," said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Stephens, who has pulled several shifts at the check-in station since the run began Oct. 19.
Marines from the Marine Corps Detachment at Fort Gordon and the Marine Corps Reserve in Augusta have been taking turns running the three-mile lap. It takes about 25 minutes to run it, he said.
Cpl. Douglas Beiser said he thinks the concept fits in well with Marine Corps tradition.
"The whole Marine Corps motto is 'No one left behind,' " he said.
Beiser thinks about the Marine he's running for while taking the lap, but "I think about not just the ones who've died but the ones who are still over there."
While some of the Marines personally knew those they are running for, others have come up with ways to make a connection to their fallen comrade.
"Some people run for those with the same last name, same rank. Some have the same hometown, state or unit," said Stephens.
People from outside Fort Gordon have also taken an interest and want to help. They've stopped and asked if they could run. Some have brought doughnuts and cookies to the runners and those staffing the table.
"It's a great feeling to know people want to do something to remember us," he said.
The run will end Friday with a ceremony at Barton Field. As runners complete their laps, they carry a pouch filled with ammunition, which will be used in a 21-gun salute.
"It's pretty moving," Stephens said.
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