Behind the scenes of the Special Tactics Memorial March

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joseph Pick
  • 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Alongside highways and back roads of the southern U.S. states, there are two Special Tactics Airmen trekking in the name of their fallen brethren killed in combat.

What most people won’t see, is the Individual Duty Medical Technicians putting moleskin on painful blisters, or the communication Airman ensuring the operators are following the correct route, or supply Airmen servicing safety vehicles and the list goes on.

A support force of 19 Air Commandos from nine different career specialties are working around-the-clock, 24/7, behind the scenes of Air Force Special Operations Command’s Special Tactics Memorial March, as 10 two-man teams ruck 830 miles to Hurlburt Field. 

“Mission support is the foundation that Special Tactics combat capability is built on,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, command chief of the 24th Special Operations Wing and participant in the march. “As always, they have been pivotal in the accomplishment of this 830-mile, five state movement.  My hat is off to all involved in the complex planning and execution of this incredible event.”

The 19 mission support Airmen consist of : IDMTs, a Special Operations Surgical Team emergency services physician, a vehicle maintenance technician, combat arms specialist, client systems technician, weather officer, office of special investigations representative, protocol and public affairs.

Ten two-man teams of Special Tactics operators set off in the early morning on Feb. 22 at Medina Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and are approaching their halfway point in their 11-day journey. Their mission: pay tribute to Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, who was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 27, 2018, and honor the 19 Special Tactics Airmen who have been killed in action since 9/11.

“I’m both incredibly humbled and fortunate to be a part of the team. It’s keeping guys in the fight, something small that we can give back to the community to show our support across the force.” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Billy Norad, the medical operations superintendent with the 24th SOW and an IDMT on the ruck. “The ruckers know that we’re here to make sure they succeed and they respect and rely on a level of expertise to help make that happen.”

When the support Airmen are not working their primary responsibilities, they can be found right alongside the 20 ST ruckers -- turning steps into miles and honoring their teammates.

“There are two shifts of support folks, each on the road 12 hours a day,” said retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Steve Haggett, chief of protocol with the 24th SOW. “All the support teams, every day, are putting rucks on and rucking with the teams on the road.”

This is the 5th Special Tactics Memorial March since 2009, where it originated as the “Tim Davis Memorial March.” The march was renamed to honor all fallen Special Tactics Airmen in 2011 to the “Special Tactics Memorial March” and is held whenever one of their own is killed in action.

The ST Memorial March is scheduled to be completed Mar. 4 with their arrival to Hurlburt.