Honoring the fallen at Tough Ruck 26.2

American Legion Tango Alpha Lima co-hosts Jeff Daly and Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado reunited in Boston with a former podcast co-host, National Judge Advocate Mark Seavey, and a group of American Legion members who completed the Tough Ruck 26.2 Boston event on April 16. 

Before the event, Seavey observed that the energy of the participants was exciting. “It’s liquid patriotism,” he said. “Everywhere you look, there are flags and guidons … it’s a great event.”

Retired Massachusetts National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Tom Sellars, a Tough Ruck spokesman, told the hosts that the Tough Ruck is an opportunity for those with connections to first responders or members of the military to show their respect. 

“Much like The American Legion and the Auxiliary,” said Sellars, “there are people who want to pull together, and that’s what you see at Tough Ruck.” 

Click here to to listen to the episode or watch the full experience on The American Legion YouTube Channel

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Seavey led a team that included Media & Communications Chairman David F. Wallace of Virginia, South Dakota Department service officer Courtney VanZanten and National Guard Sgt. Robert Maldonado, aka “mah husband” of Ashley, and a member of American Legion Post 180 in Vienna, Va.

Each member of the ruck crew carried with them ribbons to remember fallen servicemembers: 

Army Staff Sgt. Craig Cherry and Sgt. Bobby Beasley, two soldiers of the 3rd Battalion,116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team who were killed when their Humvee was destroyed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2004. 

Army Sgt. Gary R. Harper Jr., assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Oct. 9, 2005, when his reconnaissance mission was attacked by enemy forces in Baghdad.

Army Pfc. Sergio S. Abad, of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, who died July 13, 2008, of wounds sustained when his outpost was attacked by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades from enemy forces in Wanat, Afghanistan. 

Army Spc. Stephan Lee Mace, U.S. Army’s Black Knight Troop, killed in action Oct. 3, 2009, during the Battle of COP Keating.

Army National Guard Capt. Lawrence Grinnell Yacubian, who died after returning from Afghanistan deployment in 2013.

Retired Army Sgt. Jonn Lilyea, who served in Panama and Desert Storm, and died in 2018 of service-connected ALS.

The team joined around 500 others with memorial ribbons featuring the names of fallen servicemembers, police, firefighters, EMS and DOC on their rucksacks on the trail between Concord and Lexington, Mass. The historic route led participants over the Old North Bridge in Minute Man National Park, past the Old Manse, which was home to both Nathaniel Hawthorn and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and along the battle road where the British retreated back to Boston during the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

Along the route, the podcast team met with other American Legion Family members who were participating, including Nicole Erry, a new member from Post 68 in Pittsfield, Mass., and American Legion Auxiliary member from Sweeney Post 2 in Manchester, N.H., Fylisity Baker-Scott, who has been participating in the Boston Tough Ruck since 2016.

American Legion Department of Massachusetts Vice Commander Sandra Kee and members of Post 221 in Bedford, Mass., including American Legion Rider Jon “OC” O’Connor, were stationed on the trail, where they provided water, Gatorade and words of encouragement to the participants as they passed. The group also gave out 100 Miles for Hope bandanas, which participants had on hand as they crossed the finish line.