Tragedy struck last year when a KC-130 military aircraft suffered catastrophic failure at 20,000 feet causing the plane to crash in Leflore County, Miss and killing all 16 service members. Today, 30 Marine and Navy Corpsmen march in their honor.
The team journeyed through Madison on their way to Camp Lejeune, N.C. carrying packs filled with soil from the crash site. The dirt will be used to plant a tree at the Marine Corps Special Operations Command. Their near 900-mile ruck march from the crash site will take then 11 days to complete.
The group is composed of active duty Marines, Gold-Star spouses and prior service military members. They will march 24/7 until they reach Camp Lejeune.
The seven United States Marine Raiders and nine United States Marine Aviator crew were on route from North Carolina to Yuma, Ariz. for routine pre-deployment training on July 10. They never arrived.
The Marine Raider Memorial March symbolizes bringing the Marines home on a journey they were unable to make and hopes to honor and remember the Raiders from the Marine Special Operations Command, according to its website. The team is also carrying a Marine Raider flag and the American flags that were draped over the soldiers.
The fallen Raiders are Staff Sgt. William J. Kundrat, Sgt. Talon R. Leach, Staff Sgt. Robert H. Cox, Sgt. Chad E. Jenson, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan M. Lohrey, Sgt. Dietrich A. Schmieman and Sgt. Joseph J. Murray.