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USFOR-A commander, team honor those who came before, thank those who serve today
By TSgt Chuck Marsh, US Forces-Afghanistan public affairs
May 25, 2009 - 6:54:39 PM
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SrA Jaime Ciciora, Armed Forces News, films the runners from the finish line of the two-mile Memorial Day run held by US Forces-Afghanistan May 25 at USFOR-A headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. More than 250 USFOR-A members gathered to participate in the Memorial Day run led by Gen. David McKiernan, US Forces-Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Forces commander. (Photo by TSgt Chuck Marsh)
KABUL, Afghanistan - More than 250 members of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan donned the physical training gear of their respective services and gathered to start Memorial Day 2009 with a brisk two-mile formation run around New Kabul Compound.  The run was followed by a host of activities including a home-style barbecue cookout for lunch.

As the sun peeked over the deep green sniper fencing, Navy Capt. William Marsh led the troops in stretching to prepare for the run.  He also took advantage of the captive crowd to share a brief story about where he was for Memorial Day 2008. 

"I was in Elizabeth, Penn., a typical small-town America, for last Memorial Day," said Captain Marsh.  "I was the guest speaker at their event and as I stood on the stage in front of a crowd of about 150 people or so with veterans from World War II and every war since, I told them how they should be proud of this generation.

"Many of you here today have lost a friend, relative, mentor, Soldier, Airman or someone else in the past few years, and whether this is your first time here or you keep coming, you’re here to finish the job.  I love being a part of this profession and sharing these days with you.  Today, we remember those we lost, but also our families back home and all those good Americans living in small towns across the United States who are back home paying tribute to us in their ways."

Gen. David McKiernan, USFOR-A and International Security Assistance Forces commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa then led the pack on the memorial run.  Afterward, General McKiernan addressed the crowd.

"There is no better way to start the day than with your closest comrades-in-arms," said the general.   "There is nobody here this morning I should have to explain the significance of this day to.  It’s a day to remember those Americans who served their country everywhere around the world and didn’t have the opportunity to return home."

The general said he was proud to carry on the tradition of excellence adding, "You set a wonderful example for the United States of America because of what you’re doing today" 

Every military member has his or her own reasons for joining the military and the particular branch they selected; regardless of their reasons, they are all connected by the bond of service. 

"I’m the only servicemember in my family," said Marine Cpl. Philip Siejack, "so it means a lot to me being here.  But what’s more important to me is what my service means to my family.

"It was good to be out here and see all the other services and how they work as part of the team," said the four-year veteran, who said that he enlisted because he just wanted to be a Marine and do his part for the country.

Corporal Siejack, a member of the USFOR-A driving team, is three months into his first deployment.  He has participated in one other formation run since arriving. He said he enjoyed participating in activities like this with other services and being deployed, mentioning that he recently "reenlisted for a reason." 

For CSM Savusa, Memorial Day is important because of his family’s tradition of service, which spans the days of his father in the Marines to his family’s loss of relatives in current conflicts.

"My dad was a Marine and that’s where I learned why I needed to be in this profession," he said.  "I learned that it doesn’t matter what service you selected, but that you serve honorably and carry on the tradition.  Thank you for what you do—volunteering to come here—and thank you to your families back home."

General McKiernan left the group with one last message to consider.

"Someday when you’re a bit older and sitting in a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), you’ll see the young Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine, you’ll thank them for their service and you’ll remember this time and this place.  Today and each day you’re here, you should be able to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and be able to say you did something to improve this mission."

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

 
Spc. Embrel Williams carries the US Forces-Afghanistan flag and leads the team of guidons to their positions toward the front of the formation. More than 250 USFOR-A members gathered to participate in the Memorial Day run led by Gen. David McKiernan, US Forces-Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Forces commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa. (Photo by TSgt Chuck Marsh)
Gen. David McKiernan, US Forces-Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Forces commander, addresses more than 250 USFOR-A members after a two mile Memorial Day run held May 25 at USFOR-A headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo by TSgt Chuck Marsh)

 
Members of US Forces-Afghanistan perform leg raises during a pre-run stretching session May 25 at USFOR-A headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. More than 250 USFOR-A members gathered to participate in the Memorial Day run led by Gen. David McKiernan, US Forces-Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Forces commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa. (Photo by TSgt Chuck Marsh)
Gen. David McKiernan, US Forces-Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Forces commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa, led more than 250 USFOR-A members in a Memorial Day run at USFOR-A headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 25. (Photo by TSgt Chuck Marsh)

 
The US Forces-Afghanistan flag is faded by the morning sunlight as USFOR-A members perform crunches during a pre-run stretching session May 25 at USFOR-A headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. More than 250 USFOR-A members gathered to participate in the Memorial Day run led by Gen. David McKiernan, US Forces-Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Forces commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa. (Photo by TSgt Chuck Marsh)
 

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SPC Torres
22 Mar 2010, 11:08
I had the honor and the priviledge of being there that day as part of the USFOR-A personnel. It was a good run and better yet it was a good deployment, it is an honor to serve our country and work side by side with so many professional Soldiers, Airmans, Marines and Sailors.

God bless them all!
Tom
11 Jun 2009, 14:53
This is a DoD press release.
We do not edit them, they are published as submitted.
Anonymous
11 Jun 2009, 03:03
It's not Armed Forces News - AFN stands for American Forces Network
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