AB 201 honors GUNDAM 22 with memorial ruck

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rose Gudex
  • 406th Air Expeditionary Wing

Airmen, Soldiers and U.S. government civilians assigned to the 409th Air Expeditionary Group here participated in an 8-mile memorial ruck Dec. 16 to honor the lives of the eight-member GUNDAM 22 crew lost during the CV-22 Osprey aircraft crash off the shore of Yakushima Island, Japan, in late November.

The deployed members of the 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron vehicle maintenance flight chose to honor them in a way fitting for mechanics, which was to carry an eight-cylinder Humvee engine block for 8 miles – a mile for each member of the crew. 

“We wanted to feel pain and struggle for the [GUNDAM 22] crew because we think they would have done the same for us,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jacob Rosales, 724th EABS vehicle maintenance mechanic.

The VM flight painted a non-functional Humvee engine block red, white and blue; and added the names of an aircrew member of GUNDAM 22 to each cylinder of the engine. While the ruck began as an event within vehicle maintenance, Rosales said it soon grew to be much larger and was open to anyone on base.

The event began with memorial pushups as the sun rose over the perimeter fence. Participants added unit or career field patches to the litter next to the engine block, then the first group of Airmen lifted the nearly 300-pound engine and began the three-hour journey around the base.

Throughout the event, participants cycled in and out with one another to share the weight of the load, never allowing it to touch the ground again until everyone reached the final destination.

After the ruck, the engine block was displayed at the base’s vehicle maintenance building, where it will remain a constant reminder of fallen comrades and the sacrifice service members prepare to make every day they don a uniform.

“Carrying the eight-cylinder engine block for 8 miles was our way to make sure the [GUNDAM 22] crew is not forgotten,” Rosales said. “It was our way to carry them home.”

Editor’s note: Information from an Air Force press release was used in this article.