SAN DIEGO -- More than 900 runners and volunteers converged on San Diego State University (SDSU) July 29, for the inaugural Joggin' for Frogmen 5k run, a memorial event honoring 31 American warriors who gave their lives in a helicopter crash Aug. 6, 2011 in Afghanistan.
Twenty-two men associated with Naval Special Warfare (NSW) forces, including 17 SEALs, were among those killed. NSW men were part of a joint and combined team of U.S. Army aircrew, U.S. Air Force para-rescue and combat controllers and an Afghan security element.
The event kicked off at 7 a.m., just over a week shy of the one year anniversary of the highest number of U.S. forces killed during a single event in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Guest speakers included Army Ranger Sean Parnell, John Kelsall, father of fallen SEAL Jonas T. Kelsall and ultra marathon runner Mike Rouse who all offered memories and motivation.
Rouse ran for 24 hours non-stop prior to the start of event in honor of his close friend, Jonas.
"Those men made the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy ourselves today," said Rouse. "We didn't do this for ourselves or for our own profit, but to those who we want to thank and support."
The main sponsors for the event were the Veterans United Foundation, Navy SEAL Foundation, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, USO and Navy Federal Credit Union.
"We raised a lot of money for our foundations and that was our main goal," said Trisha Snelgrove, Joggin' for Frogmen creator and race director. "This year we ran in honor of the 31 heroes and next year we'll run for another group of warriors."
Some participants, like Hospital Corspman 2nd Class (FMF) Eugene Lewis, ran to honor fallen best friends. His best friend from high school, Special Warfare Operator 3rd Class Denis Miranda, was one of nine military personnel killed when his helicopter crashed in Zabul Province in Southern Afghanistan Sept. 21, 2010.
"Denis and I grew up together. I buried my best friend and now I plan on honoring his memory with running races and gaining support for his family and the other fallen heroes," said Lewis. "We're going to continue to build his legacy with word of mouth and our organization 'Team Denis Miranda.'"
Volunteers gave their support by cheering on the runners and directing them through the course around SDSU. The U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team, the Leap Frogs, performed an aerial demonstration to conclude the event.