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‘Ruck March to Remember’ honors 1-year anniversary of fallen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The predawn light illuminated the downturned faces of nearly 50 people gathered in a circle. With their heads bowed, breath misting in the cold, each listened intently to the chaplain’s prayer.

The prayer circle is a tradition for Task Force Crimson, one usually performed before each outside-the-wire mission, to ask for a safe and successful operation. This prayer circle was different.

December 21 marked one year since six Task Force Crimson members lost their lives in an improvised explosive device attack near Bagram Airfield. To honor their memory, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron members and Expeditionary Detachment 2405, Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agents gathered for a “Ruck March to Remember.”

“We wanted to do something special to commemorate the anniversary and in security forces and OSI, we tend to do ruck marches,” said Maj. Shawn Chamberlin, the 455th ESFS commander. "We feel a little bit of pain for their suffering and their pain.”

The ruck march was six miles, one mile for each fallen member, with memorial mile markers for each member, which included the following:

-Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, 36, with the Air Force OSI, 9th Field Investigations Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

-Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cinco, 28, with the Air Force OSI, 11th Field Investigations Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.

-Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub, 30, with Detachment 816, Air Force OSI, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

-Staff Sgt. Chester J. McBride, 30, with Detachment 405, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

-Tech. Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, 45, with the 105th SFS at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York.

-Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa, 31, with the 105th SFS at Stewart ANGB.

“Each mile had a picture, and that was their mile,” Chamberlin said. “Throughout that mile, we would just think about that troop and their family and the effects that were felt by (their) loss.”

Members of the 451st Expeditionary Support Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan; the 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart ANGB; and the 824th Base Defense Squadron at Moody AFB, Georgia, also participated in the ruck march at their locations. The 105th SFS and 824th BDS tuned into Bagram’s ruck march via FaceTime and Facebook.

“To bring them in halfway across the world is great,” said Special Agent Todd Turner, the Task Force Crimson, EDET 2405 commander. “I know there are OSI detachments and security forces squadrons all around the world doing a ruck march in remembrance today so it’s nice to tie us all together.”

During their time downrange, the six TF Crimson members removed 12 IEDs, 21 weapons caches and 16 insurgents from the battlespace. Their intelligence gathering added 71 individuals to the biometrically enabled watch list.

“That’s the lasting impact they had here – they saved far more lives than their six lives that were lost,” Turner said.

That selfless sacrifice is remembered by their families back home and their military brethren here.

“It was personal to us, the loss was felt in our community,” said Chamberlin, who deployed with Lemm and Bonacasa to Iraq in 2011. “It was very emotional last night writing this speech, just going back through all the memories. These guys were amazing Airmen.”

Chaplain (Capt.) Benjamin Quintanilla provided the invocation at Taub’s memorial service at Ellsworth AFB in December 2015. He recalled seeing Taub’s family and thinking that his children would never see their father again.

He said he quickly thought of it another way: his children would always remember their father as a hero.