By Story by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriman, Green Bay Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN — The “Purple Foxes” of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 364 (REIN)took over the flight deck aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) Sept. 30 to hold the Landaker 5k.
The Landaker 5k is an annual event held in Big Bear, Cali. to honor the Marines and Sailors who were flying with Marine 1st Lt. Jared M. Landaker when his helicopter was shot down in Iraq killing all aboard.
“Usually we go up to Big Bear and we support the Landaker family and the Seven Stars Foundation by participating in the 5k run,” Detachment Officer in Charge Major Andrew Kirk Patrick said. “This year we’re unable to attend and I can’t thank the Green Bay captain and crew enough for allowing us to use their facilities to accomplish this run. It means a lot to us.”
The Seven Stars Foundation was started by the families of the helicopter crew. Together they plan events around the country to raise money for children who have lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan to help them further their education.
“We wanted to support them. Even if we can’t be there physically, we were there in spirit,” event coordinator Marine Capt. Clinton Adams said. “I think it went very well, I was impressed with the turn out on both Navy and Marine side. It was a great time for all of us to get some physical training and remember our fallen comrades.”
Due to limited space on the flight deck the runners were divided into three separate heats running 32 laps each. The top two runners for the Navy and the Marines were recognized at the end of each heat.
“I’ve run this 5k three times before and it’s actually better underway because the real race is in the mountains of Big Bear and it’s harder to breath. Still this is worse because you have to run so many laps,” said first heat winner Marine Capt. Brian Kennedy. “I’m glad I won the first heat because I had to have a “Purple Fox” win. It’s a very important chance for us to honor the fallen that have gone before us and honor the families of the fallen and provide publicity to get support for the foundation.”
Green Bay is part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group currently underway on a deployment with amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).