By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Photo by Lisa Bicknell
Mountain Warriors began the first lef of an memorial march for Lt. Colonel Jeff Cole. Soldiers carried the flag above to Middlesboro.
On Friday morning, the first shift of marchers participating in the Inaugural Mountain Warrior Memorial Ruck March departed from the Kentucky National Guard Armory in Ravenna.
The 202 mile march was held in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cole, a former commander of the Kentucky National Guard’s 1st Battalion 149th infantry. He died from cancer in 2015 after battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Cole was a Company Commander with the Middlesboro Kentucky National Guard Armory and was deployed as a commander in 2005-2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to a news report from WYMT.
Members of his family, including his wife Christi and their four and eight year old daughters, attended a flag folding ceremony in Ravenna before the march began.
A total of 250 soldiers participated in the march as they carried heavy ruck sacks (or backpacks) from the armory in Ravenna to Middlesboro.
The soldiers marched in relays, with their first rest stop at Bunt Gross Auto in Irvine. From there, teams of the Charlie Company relayed on to Mt. Vernon. In Mount Vernon, the Bravo Company was to pick up the flag and continue to Somerset and London.
Teams of soldiers swapped out every four miles. On Sunday afternoon, they placed a flag that had been carried from Ravenna to Middlesboro. The march took approximately 51 hours.