Devil Raiders Honor Fallen Comrades

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sarah Brice
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. -- The 621st Contingency Response Wing hosted the 5th Annual Port Dawg Memorial Run at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Air Mobility Command’s passenger terminal, May 17. The run honors Air Force members lost in the air transportation career field during previous years.

In 2011, members and friends of the Port Dawg community experienced the tragic murder of one of their own, Tech. Sgt. Curtis Eccleston, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. That same year, his comrades ran five kilometers in his honor, which has since evolved into the large-scale event it is today. Port Dawgs stationed across the globe coordinate their memorial run to fall on Transportation Week.

Eccleston’s death hit his friends, family, and fellow Port Dawgs hard. “It was pretty tough to take for those guys over there,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Torres of the 321st Contingency Response Squadron, organizer for this year's Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Port Dawg Memorial Run. “We probably should have been doing it all along, but it took his sacrifice to get us in solidarity together.”

This run hits close to home for the 621st CRW: Eccleston was a Devil Raider himself, having been previously stationed at McGuire. His family lives a few hours away in Maryland, and makes the drive up to see his memorial run nearly every year. This year, his memory was honored by his aunt Sharon Loving and his brother Chris Eccleston.

“Knowing who we're running for and knowing the family was there – it gives you a sense of pride,” Torres said. “Some things are more important than moving cargo and passengers. We're coming down and we're pausing a little bit to remember that.”

Aerial porters are transportation specialists who are responsible for the movement of roughly one million passengers and hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo every year.

“You don't come back from the Area of Responsibility without seeing a Port Dawg in the process,” Torres said. “Your equipment doesn't get out to where you need to go without a Port Dawg handling it somewhere. In the aerial port community, there's a certain camaraderie you don't find anywhere else”

The Memorial Run ended in a group salute to Eccleston's aunt and brother.

“We thought that would be a nice way to end and just kind of let them know that Eccleston is still one of us – he’s still part of the family,’” Torres said.