A team of over 56 active duty military runners passed through Lacey Township on Saturday, Sept. 24 as they embarked on a 152-mile run to honor every New Jersey service member killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
The third annual featured Hero Markers at the end of each mile of the run. With the intent of creating a 150-mile long memorial trail throughout the state, the runners will stop to honor a fallen soldier, and offer a flag to the soldier's waiting family and friends.
Noon - 3:30 p.m., Sunday: Registration opens at Vonage headquarters at 23 Main St. in Holmdel for the three different runs people can take part in on the closed circular drive for the "Walk, Ride, Run for the Veteran" event that begins at 2 p.m. Strollers, kids, grandparents and children are welcome to take part, which will last 90 minutes. Register here for a "customizable" t-shirt on the day. Day-of participants will be given a t-shirt with a blank shield on the back and asked to fill in who they are honoring, or any other message. There will be facilities in a tented area. The Salvation Army and the American Recreation Military Service will provide free food and drinks.
4 p.m., Sunday: A Remembrance Ceremony will include an honor guard, Sea Cadets from Naval Weapons Station Earle, a bagpiper, and the presentation of a new hand-crank custom wheelchair by the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Warriors. Staff Sgt. Joe Beimfohr US Army (Retired) will receive the wheelchair on behalf of the wounded veterans. Beimfohr will then ride the chair for the last five miles to the NJ Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.
5:00 p.m. or later, Sunday: The arrival of the runners and contingent who began their journey at Sunset Beach in Cape May on Saturday, at dawn. A “Travelling Wall of Remembrance” will accompany the runners on a float. Among the participants will be Union Beach resident and wounded soldier Sgt. Michael Minard, who uses a hand-cranked wheelchair.
At Vonage, there will be a one-mile and five-mile "Open Run" for the public who can register at the location. The one-milers do one complete lap around the circular drive. The five milers continue their trip onto the township streets towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Cars will exit out of Vonage along a route marked in red Route 520 to Route 34, taking a right on Schank Road and a left on Holmdel Road to travel to the Arts Center entrance on Crawfords Corner Road. They will park in one of the arts centers lots and walk to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (Golf cart drivers will take anyone needing a ride up the hill.)
The runners will travel through the Arts Center along the access road, under the Parkway bridges, where they will pass under a 30 x 60 foot flag held overhead by ladder trucks from Holmdel Fire Company Number 2 and Hazlet Fire Company Number One.
The motorcyclists will line the access road. The Boy Scouts will escort gold Star families, a designation that identifies a family who has lost a member to war, to the memorial. Some of the Gold Star families are flying in from California, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, said Simpson.
The event will finish at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Holmdel, culminating in a Remembrance Ceremony and Dedication.
For further information on the event, hero markers and route maps, click here.