OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
This year members from Joint Base Cape Cod, home of the 102 Intelligence Wing and the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 102nd Security Forces Squadron, will be supporting the Boston Marathon in a way different from their mission for past marathons. For years now, a small detachment of volunteers from the 102nd SFS has always supported the marathon by providing airmen for route security. This is to ensure the route is free of pedestrian and vehicle traffic for the runners.
Last year's marathon started out as all the others, with the unit assembling at a nearby Army National Guard armory, receiving their safety briefing, and being dropped off at their assigned locations. The day progressed with civilians thanking the Airmen for their service, little kids asking questions, and then the runners passing by. Shortly before 1500 hours, cell phones started ringing and concerned people began rushing around, inquiring as to what was happening.
Once it was confirmed that the finish line had been attacked, the 102nd Security Forces quickly rallied. They requested and received orders to move into Boston and assist in any way possible. The 102nd Security Forces contingent was the first military unit to arrive on a chaotic Boston Common. As they arrived the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police were attempting to secure the area and set up a command center. The 102 SFS unit was split and tasked with assisting the Department of Homeland Security, Protective Division, in perimeter sweeps of federal buildings and sweeping the area around the command center. Hours later, the unit regrouped and was deployed to secure an intersection just past the site of the bombing. The Airmen held their position through the night until being relieved by the Army National Guard the next morning.
Fast forward one year and members of the 102nd Security Forces Squadron will be at the 2014 Boston Marathon, but this time as participants. The team will march the 26.2 mile course, from Hopkinton to Boston, wearing heavy rucksacks and expect it to take eight to nine hours. One of the main reasons for the march is to support the families of fallen service-members. The money raised from the march will go to Tough Ruck and the Military Friends Foundation, both organizations mission is to provide financial and emotional support to the families of fallen service-members. To date, the team has raised $1,725, but are hoping to raise more as the event gets closer.
The 102nd's Team Leader is Staff Sgt. Gary Bent, an Army Infantry Veteran. His team is made of many members who have vast civilian and military experience to include deployments to Iraq and active duty service with the Army, Air Force and Marines. Team members range from individuals with several deployments and 13 years of service to new Airmen right out of Security Forces training. Several members of the team are also corrections officers, firefighters, or police officers. In addition, the 102nd team will be joined by Staff Sgt. Todd Olsson, an Aerospace Medical Technician, from Hanscom Air Force Base's 66th Medical Squadron.
The 102nd Security Forces will be marching for the innocent civilians injured and lost on April 15, 2013 and all of our fallen military brothers and sisters, including Staff Sgt. "TJ" Lobraico. Sgt. Lobraico was recently killed in combat operations in Afghanistan while serving with the 105th Security Forces Squadron of the New York Air National Guard. Sgt. Lobraico's friend, Staff Sgt. John Bellino, will be representing the NY ANG and marching with the 102nd to honor the memory and sacrifice that his friend made while they were deployed together. Technical Sgt. Michael Callahan, who will be marching and is also a Massachusetts State Trooper, stated, "we're going to forget what those terrorists stand for and march for what's right."
To support the 102nd's Tough Ruck team go to http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=284176
or contact Staff Sgt. Bent at firstname.lastname@example.org