SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
The Air Force Sergeant’s Association hosted their 9th Annual Veteran’s Vigil Run at the James Gym Track Nov. 2 -3, honoring Vietnam Veteran Roger "Red" Darden.
Darden was deployed in 1968 to Can Tho, South Vietnam with the 244th Delta Hawk Aviation Company. On Jan. 14, Darden and his unit had been on a 42-day search and destroy mission when they were approaching Can Tho Airfield, which was under attack.
His unit approached the gully and noticed a dredge pipe that the Viet Cong were entering through. When he and his unit made it to the end of the pipe, he noticed two men lying in a ditch. After hearing groans, Darden located a man who was severely injured and carried him to safety.
In addition to honoring Darden, the 24-hour run also signified the “never ending support” for those who were Prisoners of War or are those still Missing in Action.
“It is important to honor these veterans because not every POW or MIA makes it home, and it reinforces our code of conduct,” said Staff Sgt. Darrel Johnson, 375th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor.
A lighting of the vigil candle signaled the commencement of the event wherein groups ran or walked in 30-minute increments around the base track. A total of 290 runners completed 325 miles over the 24-hour span. Over 40 volunteers teamed to work shifts throughout the event to ensure the safety of the participants, while the USO provided food and beverages during the entire event.
“For these 24 hours, we kept the watch … and we paused to honor all veterans past and present and to those who bear the status of POW/MIA,” said Senior Airman Xavier McGruder, 436th Supply Chain Operations Squadron.
For 375th Air Mobility Wing Command Chief Leon Calloway, the event is all about service members and their families remembering what it means to be free.
“Being free takes dedication, commitment and sacrifice. We are here to thank them for their service and let them know we will never forget. Thank you to all who came out to participate and who volunteered to make this a showcase event.”