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3rd time's a charm
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.- Seven of the 45 Team Dover Airmen who participated in the 3rd Annual Base 2 Base March, May 20-21, pose at the "finish line." The march is a 47-mile walk from the Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle to the base flag pole here. It's purpose is to raise funds for the United Service Organizations Delaware and show support for the sacrifices deployed servicemembers make on a daily basis. This group of walkers finished the march in a record 17 hours and 30 minutes and is the first of two groups to finish. From left to right: Tech. Sgt. Tracy Davis, 512th Maintenance Squadron, Staff Sgt. Krystle Lambert, 512th MXS, Airman 1st Class, Nate Petersen, 436th Maintenance Squadron, Airman 1st Class, Terrence Davis, 436th MXS, Tech. Sgt. Greg Funk, 512th Maintenance Group, Airman 1st Class, Nicholas Penrose, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Kenneth Smolecki, 512th MXS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle)
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 Airmen march 47 miles for USO Delaware
Dover Marchers finish 47-mile homecoming

Posted 5/21/2010   Updated 5/21/2010 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle
512th AW Public Affairs

5/21/2010 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Forty-seven reservists, active-duty members, guardsmen and civilians participated in the 3rd annual Base 2 Base March from New Castle, Del., to Dover.

Sixteen people finished the entire 47-mile trek, which began at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Delaware Air National Guard wing headquarters, in New Castle, and ended at 2:30 p.m. today at the base flag pole here.

Five marchers finished with a time of 17 hours and 30 minutes and eleven completed the route in 21 hours and 21 minutes.

Tech. Sgt. David Jackson, 512th Logistics Readiness Flight, organized the march two years ago to celebrate his college graduation from Wilmington University and to honor the sacrifices made by deployed personnel and their families.

"I would love for deployed servicemembers to see we are thinking of them every day," said Sergeant Jackson. "We may be bruised and blistered today, but they do this all the time. This (Base 2 Base March) is just a way of showing our appreciation for what they do."

The tradition of the march also shows gratitude for the volunteer hours people of the United Service Organizations have dedicated to the military, said Sergeant Jackson.

This march raised more than $1,000 for the USO.

"I appreciate the donors and volunteers who assist the USO," said Joan Cote, USO Delaware director, who walked the first 17 miles of the march. "When military members take care of each other it's remarkable."

Ms. Cote said it was great to be part of the team and plans to participate in next year's event.

The Airmen used the same route as last year, which included State Route 13, crossing over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at the Reedy Point Bridge in Delaware City, and back onto Route 13 through Smyrna on their way to Dover.

They wore safety reflective belts for the entire journey and used flash lights during the night, which is a state requirement when walking on the road at night.

Staff Sgt. Michael Spencer, 512th LRF, has participated in the event each year. He said this year's march had a little more meaning.

"This year was very symbolic," he said. "We started with 47 walkers and it was a 47-mile march; that stands out on its own."

What also stands out is the vast growth of participants in the march, said Sergeant Spencer. The first year, there were only three marchers. Last year, there were 11 participants and this year there were 47.

Sergeant Jackson credits the higher numbers to an increase of awareness.

"I never expected this many marchers so soon," said Sergeant Jackson. "I just wanted people to participate in some fashion, even if it's just cheering us on as we finish. I'm very happy with the turn out."

Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Ford, 512th Maintenance Squadron, said he took part in the march because of Sergeant Jackson's efforts and it's a good cause.

"The focus of this event belongs to Sergeant Jackson," he said. "The camaraderie of Team Dover members gives me a great feeling. The marchers are great Americans because not only do they put in a good 12 hours of work every day, but they go out and walk 47-miles. I find that impressive."

In all, it was 102,901 steps for Sergeant Jackson to complete the overnight journey. To say his feet hurt, is probably an understatement.

When asked how he felt, Sergeant Jackson replied, "My feet are a little hot right now."

The sergeant, as well as other marchers, hobbled off to tend to their blisters and bruises. Despite their wounds, many of the walkers said they have plans to participate next year.

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