GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (12/23/2018) New York National Guard Airmen and Soldiers join dozens of military family members and hundreds of friends for the annual Christmas Eve-morning four mile road march to show support for military men and women serving in Afghanistan, Kuwait and locations around the world.
WHO: New York Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Queensbury Readiness Center, and other units in the greater capital region, their family members, veterans and friends. More than 700 marchers are expected.
WHAT: A four-mile road march to honor fellow Soldiers who are away from family and friends, serving their country, and often in harm's way, on Christmas.
WHEN: 9 a.m., Monday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, 2018.
WHERE: The Cool Insuring Arena, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Glens Falls, N.Y. The march will start and finish at the arena.
For additional information about the course or to register, contact retired Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Arthur Coon at 518-542-4726.
Imagery of Soldiers, many in uniform, along with family members, Patriot Guard Riders and veterans marching from the Glens Falls Civic Center and along the shoulder of the road and back to downtown Glens Falls. There will be opportunities for interviews with participants at the beginning about the meaning of the march, which has become an annual event.
The Christmas Eve Road March was first conducted in 2004 when Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's Company C, 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry, which was then based at the now-closed Glens Falls Armory, were away from home in Iraq over Christmas. Other Soldiers assigned to the armory, from the 466th Area Support Medical Company, got together to conduct a road march, the military term for a walking movement, in their honor.
Since then the march has become a tradition to recognize the sacrifices being made by all American service men and women who are on-duty away from their families during the Christmas season.
"The road march was started in 2004 when our local infantry Soldiers with Company C, 2-108th Infantry were deployed to Iraq, and we didn't want them to think we were just sitting at home," said organizer and retired New York Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Art Coon. "We wanted to make damn sure they knew we remembered them!"
The road march also recognizes participants with awards for key contributors.
"We will have the same awards: largest care package donation, furthest traveler, heaviest backpack for male and female, largest group and largest family," Coon said.
The 2018 road march will honor Gold Star families, Coon said. These are families who have lost a loved one related to overseas deployments for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"We are honoring the Gold Star families who have been participating with us," Coon said, Every year several of these Gold Star families participate in the march, Coon said, including the parents of Army Lt. Col. Todd Clark, Army Staff Sgt. Derek Farley, Army Sgt. Kristie Roberts, Army National Guard Sgts. Nate Brown and Chad Byrne and Army National Guard Spc. Zack Bergmeier.
"I always find it so heartwarming that after all these families have been through, they march with us," Coon said.
"Julie and I couldn't think of being anywhere else on Christmas Eve, its almost more of a "family" reunion at this point," Coon said. "So many Soldiers, their families, all coming out to support those who cannot be home."
Supporting area units of the New York National Guard that regularly participate include the 466th Area Medical Support Company and 1427th Transportation Company, both stationed at the Queensbury Readiness Center, along with Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing from Scotia, N.Y. and the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters, based in Troy, N.Y.
The march is sponsored, in part, by the Capital District of New York Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.
The march will occur in downtown Glens Falls, where the Glens Falls Police Department is coordinating the road march route with the New York National Guard's Family Readiness Group.