SAN ANTONIO — A dozen airmen have begun an 824-mile trek over the next 11 days to commemorate 12 special tactics airmen who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Seven of the participants are from Hurlburt Field. The other marchers are stationed at Keesler and Lackland air force bases.
The airmen left Lackland in San Antonio early Tuesday and will relay through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama before reaching Hurlburt Field on Oct. 16.
The marchers will walk 15 to 20 miles at a time, carrying 50-pound rucksacks and commemorative batons engraved with a fallen airman’s name.
Organizers hope to raise awareness of Air Force specialties such special ops and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF).
“It’s an organization that provides scholarships to the children of the Special Operations members that were killed in action; Army, Navy, Marine Corps. and airmen that were a part of SOCOM,” said Master Sgt. Ken Huhman, one of the participants. “It provides college scholarships to their children. It also provides counseling for the family members and offsets any kind of financial hardship that may exist from the loss of a family member and/or the severely wounded.”
The airmen are collecting donations on their Web site and along the trek. Huhman has provided a map of the team’s route on the Web site and will update their progress throughout the trip.
Huhman and Lt. Sam Schindler took the first leg of the relay.
“We got to go on a 19-mile stroll,” Huhman said Tuesday evening. “Our first leg went through San Antonio. We had an incredible amount of support from the local citizens. I felt honored and pretty happy with the turnout we had. I didn’t honestly think that we would get as much support as we did.”
Lackland and Hurlburt were chosen for their significance to Combat Control (CCT).
“We picked Lackland because that’s where all of us start out and we picked Hurlburt because that’s where we all end up,” Huhman said.
The Quiet Professionals take their Combat Control Selection course at Lackland before going to the 720th Special Tactics Group, part of the Air Force Special Operations Command based at Hurlburt.
“The main focus is to honor our guys we’ve lost in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Huhman said.
The Air Force will hold a ceremony honoring Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, an airman killed in Afghanistan in February, on the day the airmen arrive at Hurlburt. Davis’ name will be added to the Combat Control Memorial at the base’s Air Park.
“He was a true selfless hero and the consummate quiet professional,” Huhman wrote on the team’s Web site. “My team and I are honoring his memory and the other men of USAF Combat Control (CCT) that have made the ultimate sacrifice by making a little trek.”