LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. --
For many people, Memorial Day was spent relaxing, cooking food on the grill, and spending time with family and friends. However, for more than 100 Marines from Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Camp Pendleton, Calif., the day started off with a half-marathon dedicated to the Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice and to those who are serving today.
May 28, 2012, marked the 14th Annual City of Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon, 5k, and 10K, Honoring the United States Marine Corps Dark Horse Battalion. More than 5,000 runners joined the Marines in the early hours on May 28. Just before 7:00 a.m., the battalion color guard presented both the United States and Marine Corps flags followed by the Star Spangled Banner.
In addition to the runners, 3/5 also set up vehicle and weapons displays at the finish line so runners could get a hands-on experience with Marine Corps equipment.
“On this day, we remember the 1,200,000 Americans who wore this country’s uniforms, who gave the ultimate sacrifice and paid with their very lives, so we might enjoy the freedoms we have today,” said Melody Carruth, Laguna Hills mayor. “This is no ordinary half marathon. As you return home to your loved ones and friends, and enjoy a barbeque and relax on Memorial Day, you’ll be able to tell them proudly, that today you ran a race with heroes.”
Remembrance was the theme of the day, and no one seemed to take that for granted.
“It’s Memorial Day,” said Jonathan Pauley, race director and former Marine. “There’s no better way to honor those who made the sacrifice than to honor those who are fighting in our behalf.”
The Marine runners didn’t forget why they were there, either.
“We are running in remembrance of our brothers,” Lance Cpl. John McCormick, India Co., 3/5. “Twenty-five Marines died and more than 200 were wounded [during our last deployment]. This means a lot. The community has our backs; they supported us with care packages and continued when we returned.”
While the civilian runners wore typical race apparel, the Marines of 3/5 wore clothing that represented the unit. Some, like 1st Lt. Michael Dorsey, wore clothing honoring his friend, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, who died in Sangin November 9, 2010. Dorsey’s teammates on Team Kelly were his and Kelly’s wives.
“This is just one small sign of the many things the city is constantly doing for our battalion, and trust me, when the chips are down, it means a great deal to the Marines and sailors to know that we have the support of the community,” said Lt. Col. Christeon Griffin, the battalion’s commanding officer.