Tactical Air Control Party Airmen stationed at Pope Field participated in the second annual TACP Association’s 24-hour, worldwide run challenge at the Hedrick Stadium track, March 28 and 29.
The challenge run started at 3 p.m. and culminated 24-hours later with a final lap group run and memorial push up drill, citing the names of fallen TACP Airmen.
Next to the track, a TACP flag, a humvee, specialized equipment, and memorials to fallen TACP Airmen were set up for visitors and to remind participants of why they were running.
“Runners from the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron, 682nd Air Support Operations Squadron, 18th Air Support Operations Group, 18th Weather Squadron, and 21st Special Tactics Squadron participated locally,” said Master Sgt. Mark Foster, a TACP assigned to the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron. “The fundraising event is in honor of our fallen TACP brothers, Senior Airman Bradley Smith, Maj. David Gray, and Airman 1st Class Ray Losano, to name just a few. The money raised goes toward continuing our pledge to one another, as members of an elite brotherhood, to care for each other and each other’s Families, even after we leave this Earth.
Last year’s inaugural event raised more than $10,000. This year, the TACP community has logged 4,230 miles and raised $47,500 so far, surpassing the goal of $25,000.”
The event’s deadline has been extended to April 20, to allow deployed TACPs to participate.
Maj. Christopher Wright, 14th Air Support Operations Squadron commander explained the meaning of the event to the TACP community.
“This is an opportunity for us, as military members, to do two things. First, it is to honor our fallen brothers in arms. It is healing for us, and it is a way to never forget those who have gone before us. Second, it is to take care of the Families. It is a long-lasting tradition for those TACP who remain to take care of the Families who are left behind. I pray we all keep them in our hearts and our men and women show the honor and respect to those who gave their lives and to those who will always carry the scar of a loved one who has fallen,” said Wright.
Senior Airman Tom Meehan, a TACP assigned to the 14th Air Support Operations, participated in his first challenge run with his dog, Ruger.
“This event is just a way to pay back for people who can’t be here right now. Luckily, I’m in good health and have the opportunity to come out here to exercise and increase awareness,” said Meehan.
One of the few, true front-line combat jobs in the Air Force, TACP specialists are known for their ability to bring overwhelming firepower to the battlefield in the form of artillery and air strikes. Known by Army light infantry and special operations Soldiers as joint terminal attack controllers, TACP Airmen provide close air support terminal guidance control to increase the capability of ground combat forces. They also are experts in artillery and in naval combat and attack helicopter capabilities who use all combat assets to deter and counter attack enemy forces.