Pa. National Guard hosts 2nd annual March for the Fallen - abc27 WHTM

Lebanon County

Gold Star mom, wounded warrior share bond at 'March for the Fallen'

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SSG Earl Granville SSG Earl Granville
Gold Star mother Kathy Andreas Gold Star mother Kathy Andreas

The Pennsylvania National Guard hosted its second annual March for the Fallen at Fort Indiantown Gap on Sunday.

The 28-mile march honors soldiers who died in the line of duty, with some participants marching in memory of a friend or family member. Soldiers walk or run in full uniform and 35-pound rucksacks. Civilians are also free to participate.

The opening ceremony began at 7:45 a.m., and the competition kicked off 15 minutes later. The event wrapped up with an awards ceremony at 3 p.m.

Officials with the National Guard said more than 500 men and women signed up to participate.

"It's a celebration. It's a celebration of your comradery, your friendships, and the fallen. It's a celebration of their life and all they've dedicated and done throughout the time they're here," Col. Marc Ferraro said.

Families of fallen soldiers were also in attendance. Kathy Andreas came to support Staff Sergeant Earl Granville, who lost his leg in the same IED attack in Afghanistan that killed her son, Specialist Derek Holland, in June 2008.

"You can feel very alone sometimes in this position and this reminds you, you are not," Andreas said.

Granville said he chose to walk for Holland on what would have been his 25th birthday. He was just 20 years old when he died. He emphasized he was also marching in honor of Andreas.

"You know, she's the one who lost a son. I just lost a leg," he said.

Andreas said she is inspired that the march has grown so much since its inception in 2012. She now plans to attend the event every year from now on.

All proceeds from registration fees and vendor sales go to various wounded warrior charities, National Guard officials said.

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