Special Ops airmen march to Tampa to remember fallen comrades

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 10:02 AM.

 “I’m not built for it really – I’m a pilot,” joked Tom Leyden, one of the marchers who is also a U-28 pilot and served with the men that died in the plane crash. “It’s going to be grueling, but it’s a great sacrifice to dedicate this to those five fallen.”

This is the second march Hurlburt airmen have made to Tampa. Last year, McGowen organized a similar event to honor his friends who died in a helicopter crash in 2011.

He is the only one returning for the march this year.

The marchers will end their journey at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, headquarters for all Special Operations forces.

They will march to a wall etched with the names of all the special operations servicemen who have been killed in action.

“You can rub your hand along the wall, for these guys who have fallen, and you know they gave the ultimate sacrifice,” McGowen said choking back tears before the marchers took off on Sunday. “That’s what’s going to get you through this.”

Chaplain Jonathan Hurt, of the 1st Special Operations Wing, said it was going to be a tough few days, but the men who are participating will never forget the miles they gave to those who were lost.

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