MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Marine Corps is turning 237 years old this year. Marines honor the enriched history of the Corps in many different ways to show their respect for those who came before today’s service members. One officer aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune found a way to honor the service and its fallen Marines at the same time.
Capt. Jason W. Dequenne, a logistics officer with II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), ran 236 miles last year, starting at the infamous Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, running 210 miles to the starting point of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., and finishing the 26.2 mile-long race. He plans to do the same this year, adding another mile for the 237th year of the Marine Corps’ existence.
Dequenne says, however, running 236 last year and 237 for the birthday this year, is about much more than just running a long distance.
“Once I dreamt up this challenge, I wanted to honor our fallen,” said Dequenne.
He runs each mile for different fallen Marines he either served with, someone he heard about from a friend or read about online. Dequenne says it’s the least he can do for someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“I took the challenge to help tell their stories a little better,” he said. “When a deployed service member is killed in action overseas, sometimes all people see is he or she was killed in combat operations. It doesn’t do them justice. I hear about these people, and I dig deeper. I’ll call their family, see if they’re okay with me running for their family member, and ask for more information on their service member, and find out who they were. After I get more information on a fallen Marine, I write a paragraph about who they were and post it online, and run a mile dedicated to the specific service member.”
Deqeunne posts their stories online so anyone following his 237 mile run can learn more about the Marines he is running for on a specific day. On average, he runs approximately 15 miles each day for 15 different Marines.
“I plan to have 211 miles down by the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October,” said Dequenne. “After those 26 miles, I’ll be at 237.”
Deuqeunne said finding 237 different Marines from last year can be a challenge, but one he has no problem accomplishing.
“These heroes deserve more than a small obituary entry,” he said. “They did the hard job by giving their life for a grateful nation; all I’m doing is running one mile for each.”
Dequenne said he plans to run for his fallen fellow comrades every year he can.
“The Marine Corps gets older every year, but so do I,” he said jokingly. “As long as I can move my legs I’ll be doing the yearly run.”
Dequenne can be seen running around Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune until the Marine Corps Marathon and said he would love company if anyone wants to join him.
“Anyone can come out and run with me,” he said. “I wouldn’t ask anyone to run the whole 15 miles of course, but if someone wants to run a mile or two with me, I would love to have them.”
Anyone interested in following Dequenne’s journey to 237 can find more information on freedomthroughsacrifice.org. Dequenne said he is always accepting submissions for additions to his list of Marines killed in action.
Anyone who wants to run with him can contact him through the Facebook page for Freedom Through Sacrifice.