Marking the first anniversary of a tragic crash, a team of 30 United States Marine Raiders and Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Navy Corpsmen marched through the area Tuesday on their last leg towards Camp Lejeune. The Marine Raider Memorial March is an 11-day, 900-mile journey or “ruck” that began near Itta Bena, Mississippi at the crash site that killed 15 United States Marines and one Navy Corpsman.
On July 10, 2017, seven United States Marine Raiders and nine Aviator Crew members of a KC-130T Hercules aircraft were in transit to pre-deployment training when the crash occurred. The Marine Raider Memorial March honors the fallen service members and symbolizes bringing them back home on the voyage that they were unable to make.
A memorial service will take place at the Marine Corps Special Operations Command aboard Camp Lejeune Friday. In addition to carrying the American flags that were used at the crash site by first responders, participants have packed soil that will be used to plant a tree to venerate the fallen.
Marine Raider Memorial March founder Nate Harris organized the first march after a 2015 helicopter crash that claimed the lives of 11 service members, 7 of those being from the Marine Raider unit. It was the largest loss of life that the unit had experienced since its inception in 2006.
Harris wrote in an entry on the organization’s Facebook page, “In a time where our country is seemingly torn at every seam, we first-hand witnessed what really makes America great. I constantly reflect on the amazing people that came out to support us, and I am forever grateful to each and every one of them.”