Army ROTC cadets compete in marathon in memory of fallen soldiers

Submitted photo. Participants of the Mountain Man Memorial March competition walk together Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Gatlingburg, Tenn.

Submitted photo. Participants of the Mountain Man Memorial March competition walk together Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Gatlingburg, Tenn.

Mary Booth

Cadets from the Army ROTC competed in the seventh annual Mountain Man Memorial March in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Saturday to honor the families of fallen soldiers.

The Mountain Man March, a marathon-type competition, is hosted by the University of Tennessee and anyone is allowed to participate, said Caitlin Ciralsky, senior psychology major and Army ROTC cadet.

“People go down to compete in the marathon or half marathon, and they march for fallen soldiers and for the families who have lost someone overseas,” Ciralsky said.

Tara Bresette, senior entrepreneurship major and Army ROTC cadet, competed in the Mountain Man March as the captain of the female team.

“I was in the female 26.2 marathon, full-light team, and I was the team captain,” Bresette said. “We were the team who held the flag for Ashley White, and we ran it in her honor. Our team ended up getting first place.”

Ashley White was a former Kent State graduate who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

Bresette said the Army ROTC did a great job at the march this year. The heavy-half team — (those who ran the half marathon with a 35 pound rucksack) — came in second, the female team took first, Lt. Col. Mark Piccone came in first place in his division and another individual came in second in his division.

“We really did well in Tennessee,” Bresette said. “All of those months of training definitely paid off.”

The Army ROTC began training at the beginning of December, she said.

“The cadre [group of trained personnel] implemented this program where we would meet up on weekends and go running for however many miles,” Bresette said. “Then around February and March we started dedicating time from PT [physical training] too. So not only were we training on the weekends, we would be training during the week too.”

Michael Pierce, senior history major and Army ROTC cadet, also competed in the Mountain Man March and placed seventh individually.

This is the third year Pierce has participated, and every year he has enjoyed it, he said.

“I originally did it because I heard it was a great cause for families,” Pierce said. “I’ve had a lot of family that’s been in the military so I wanted to get to know more of the family aspect of service. I think it’s a perfect opportunity to do something for a good cause.”

The best part for Pierce, he said, was the ceremonies that occurred both before and after the march.

“When you get to meet the gold star families, when they get their chance to put their impute into the event, it was great,” Pierce said. “They got the chance to say what this means for them, why they’re down there and how proud they are that we represent their families.”

Pierce said when teams compete they are given an actual gold star and a picture of the service member they were representing and competing for. He said it was a great chance to meet the families.

“It’s good to be part of an event that brings into perspective why we do what we do,” Pierce said. “It’s not just a job or a career, it’s a family-oriented organization that does care about its members and their families.”

Contact Mary Booth at [email protected].