Cadets March to Honor Gold Star Families
Team 3 member Cadet Chris Jaronsky prepares for his 26.2 mile march in memory of 23-year-old Spc. Joseph N. Landry III. – Photo courtesy of VMI ROTC.
LEXINGTON, Va., June 1, 2012 – Virginia Military Institute’s Army ROTC unit honored the lives of those who have died in action by participating in the 2012 Mountain Man Memorial March in Gatlinburg, Tenn., the weekend of April 20. Three teams from the unit entered, all placing in the top 10 in their category.
The event was organized in 2008 by members of the University of Tennessee ROTC to honor one of the unit’s alumni, Lt. Frank Walkup, who had been killed in action by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2007. Today, the march honors all Gold Star families, the families of soldiers who have given their lives for their country. This year’s event drew a record 600-plus participants from 20 states honoring 63 Gold Star families.
VMI’s teams participated in the 26.2-mile military heavy category, which required them to march with 35-pound ruck sacks that were weighed at the end of the march. Team 1, composed of Jake Moyer, Parker Blazevich, Tanner Bauer, Matthew Marcenelle, and Billy Cheatham, came in second among the 21 teams in the category. Team 2, composed of Jonathan Jackson, Weston Hitchcock, Jonathan Mattingly, Kyle Morse, and Ben Smith, came in third, and Team 3, composed of Tyler Spadine, Morgan Walberg, Chris Jaronsky, Anthony Pacheco, and Stephen Mascioli, came in 10th.
Each team carried into the march the name of a soldier who died in action: Team 1, Capt. Joshua T. Byers, killed in Iraq July 23, 2003; Team 2, Staff Sgt. Zachary R. Wobler, killed in Iraq Feb. 6, 2006; and Team 3, Spc. Joseph N. Landry III, killed in Iraq Sept. 18, 2007.
The teams’ strong showing earned them an instant invite to next year’s march.