5K to the Fort
By Staff Sgt. Peter Dean, 107th Airlift Wing
/ Published June 16, 2010
Niagara Falls, New York -- On June 13th the second annual 5K to the Fort was held honoring former 107th Security Forces member Master Sgt. Andy Hoelzl. The more than 50 runners gathered in the picnic area at Fort Niagara where they loaded onto a bus that would take them to the start point some five kilometers away.
"This is the second year we've held the run/picnic," said 107th Command Chief Richard King. " The turn out more than doubled last years, hopefully within a few years we'll have most of the wings participation," he added.
According to the runs creator's 107th Security Force members 1st Sgt. Shawn Larrabee and Master Sgt. Ed Stefik, each year a former security forces member that has passed on is selected and their memory honored.
Sergeant Hoelzl passed away suddenly at the age of 46 as a result of heart -related complications. The sergeant had more than 23 years of military service earning numerous awards and decorations. On the civilian side the sergeant was a well-respected member of the Niagara County Sheriff's Department and there again distinguished himself as a decorated member of the department.
"This is a small way we can keep their memories alive and also show their families that they are not forgotten," said Larrabee. "It also demonstrates to our younger Airmen that we are a family and we will support each other through thick and thin," he added.
This was a family affair, runners were encouraged to bring their friends, families and significant others for this unity building event. Some even brought their pets to participate in the run.
"Its important that our Airmen know, we are here for both them and their families, we are an extension of their family" said Stefik. "Events such as these, build comradely which is an invaluable tool when down range, the guy's need to know they can count on each other." he added.
Upon crossing the finish line, runners were greeted by well-wishers that had prepared a feast of hots, hamburgers, barbeque chicken and a variety of cold salads. After a few words from Capt. Kevin Smith, 107th Security Forces Commander, participants broke out the footballs, soccer balls and the lacrosse sticks making this a true family picnic.
"This is a outstanding way of getting together and honoring past friends/comrades and the contributions and sacrifices that they made, making the 107th Security Forces Squadron what it is today," said Smith.
Members throughout the wing are welcome and encouraged to participate in next years run scheduled for the summer of 2011.