The upcoming week at Ft. Bragg and every other military base in the United States will be a hub of activity as the bases prepare for Memorial Day to honor the fallen of all of the United States’ conflicts.

But the 3rd Special Forces Group, 3rd SFG(A) is getting a bit of jump on the activities of the base by conducting a 5K Memorial Run this weekend to honor the fallen members of the unit in their own way. Soldiers and family members ran and walked to show that 3rd group is a family and many wore shirts honoring the 50 members of the unit that have paid the ultimate price of freedom. Others placed placards along the route with pictures of the fallen warriors.

But in remembering, the unit chose to focus not on loss, but on the legacies that remain.

“We’re doing this because the ones we represent can’t,” said Col. Bradley D. Moses, the group commander. “But none of them would trade places with us.”

Moses said the group, which has more than 2,600 soldiers, was a close-knit family.

“All of us do this job because we love it,” he said. “This is the moment in time to honor that. It’s more celebration than race.”

Because of the relatively small size of the unit, the loss of one soldier echoes deeply within the 3rd Group, officials said. And when that happens, the group promises to keep the memories of the fallen alive.

The run is part of those efforts. Many soldiers and family members wore shirts featuring the names of all 50 3rd Group soldiers have been killed in combat in the unit’s history and the words “Care for the wounded. Honor the fallen. Continue the mission.”

But Saturday’s event was a time the soldiers and their families could pause for fellowship and reflection on 3rd Group’s and the nation’s fallen.

“This is the opener for our memorial week,” Moses said

Moses said that family atmosphere was exactly what leaders hope for.

He said it’s not something that can be created at will, but instead was fostered over constant deployments for the last 16 to 17 years.

“We’ve learned to rely on each other in times of need,” Moses said. “This truly is a family. We love what we do, and we love each other.”

While other events celebrating Memorial Day during the upcoming week will be a somber affair, the run with family members was not. It was a chance for the entire unit, both military and family members to celebrate the lives of those who were briefly a part of the unit and sadly of those gone too soon.

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Photos courtesy Fayetteville Observer