WASHINGTON — Running the Marine Corps Marathon was not only about covering 26.2 miles or eating endless amounts of carbs, it was about honoring those who have died in battle, like Maj. Megan McClung.
Maj. Marcus Byrne of the United States Army is honoring McClung and other dead soldiers during this weekend’s race. He says she is one of the people he would think about when his training became harder.
“Major McClung was out on the front lines trying to tell the story of what we were doing in Iraq and how the soldiers and marines were operating out there and what we were trying to do to turn Ramadi around,” Byrne said.
In it’s 40th year, the race honored fallen soldiers. McClung was officially honored in 2013, but her memory continues through Byrne’s participation this year.
“That is something that we need to think about as well that the Marines past and the Marines present that are still doing the fighting,” Byrne said about how Marines motivate him.
Although Byrne is in the Army, Marines have held a special place in his experience as a member of the military.
“I’ve done three combat deployments. My first deployment I actually served with Marines,” Byrne said. “Both Army and Marines, we share land combat, and having fought with them before, I thought I’d run the Marine Corps Marathon just to be with the Marines.”
McClung was activel in planning the annual marathons so when she was deployed she worked to bring the race to Iraq, with the first marathan there held in 2006. It was one of her last races; she died on Dec. 6, 2006.
“It was an IED that hit their vehicle and killed everyone on board. It hit the brigade hard because she was a very hard working public affairs officer trying to shine a light on the actions that were taking,” Byrne said.
“One of my former soldiers was on the convoy with her. He was just in a different unit at the time. His name was Specialist Vincent James Pomante.”
Thousands gathered this weekend to honor past and present Marines in their own way. McClung was the first female Marine officer killed in Iraq. She was active in ensuring that stories about military efforts in the Middle East were reaching audiences in the United States.
Honoring his colleagues and finishing in less than five hours were Byrne’s goals. According to the Marine Corps Marathon’s official site, Byrne finished the race in four hours and 53 minutes.