BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan-- The pre-dawn light illuminated the downturned faces of nearly fifty gathered in a circle. Their heads bowed, their breath misting in the cold, each listened intently to the chaplain’s prayer.
The prayer circle is a tradition for Task Force Crimson, one usually performed before each outside-the-wire mission, to ask for a safe and successful operation. This prayer circle was different.
Dec. 21, 2016 marks one year since six Task Force Crimson members lost their lives in an improvised explosive device attack near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. To honor their memory, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron members and Air Force Office of Special Investigations Expeditionary Detachment 2405 special agents gathered for a “Ruck March to Remember.”
“We wanted to do something special to commemorate the anniversary and in security forces and OSI, we tend to do ruck marches,” explained Maj. Shawn Chamberlin, 455th ESFS Commander. We feel a little bit of pain for their suffering and their pain.”
The ruck march was six miles long, one mile for each fallen member, with memorial mile-markers for each:
-Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, 36, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 9th Field Investigations Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
-Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cinco, 28, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 11th Field Investigations Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.
-Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub, 30, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 816, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.
-Staff Sgt. Chester J. McBride, 30, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 405, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
-Tech Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, 45, with the 105th Base Defense Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York.
-Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa, 31, with the 105th Base Defense Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York.
“Each mile had a picture, and that was their mile,” Chamberlin said. “Throughout that mile, we would just think about that troop and their family and the effects that were felt by his loss.”
Members of the 451st Expeditionary Support Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan; the 105th Base Defense Squadron at Stewart ANGB; and the 824th Base Defense Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, also participated in the ruck march at their locations. The 105th SFS and 824th BDS tuned into Bagram’s ruck march via FaceTime and Facebook.
“To bring them in halfway across the world is great,” said Special Agent TJ Turner, Task Force Crimson, EDET 2405 commander. “I know there are OSI detachments and security forces squadrons all around the world doing a ruck march in remembrance today so it’s nice to tie us all together.”
Their selfless sacrifice is remembered by their families back home and their military brethren here.
“It was personal to us, the loss was felt in our community,” said Chamberlin, who deployed with Lemm and Bonacasa to Iraq in 2011. “It was very emotional last night writing this speech, just going back through all the memories. These guys were amazing Airmen!”
In addition to leading the prayer circle prior to the ruck march, Chaplain (Capt.) Benjamin Quintanilla also provided the invocation at Taub’s memorial service at Ellsworth in December 2015. He recalls seeing Taub’s family and thinking that his children would never see their father again.
He said he quickly thought of it another way: his children would always remember their father as a hero.