By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
With synchronized and precise movements, the columns in the flight pivoted around the street corner. After the last column cleared the corner, the flight was stepping in unison, left and right feet gracing the pavement one after the other. With the guide-on held high and the pack of port dogs from the 19th Logistic Readiness Squadron formed together, the flight commander gives the command “DOUBLE TIME, MARCH!” and they began to run – together.
This pack of port dogs from Little Rock Air Force Base was paying tribute to one of their fallen with a fully uniformed three-kilometer, formation memorial run Feb. 28, 2013.
The run was in memory of Tech. Sgt. Curtis Eccleston, who was murdered in 2011 while serving at Kadena Air Base, Japan.
Staff Sgt. Felicia Smith, a 19th LRS air terminal operations center supervisor, organized the memorial run, one of many held by aerial porters across the world. Smith said she hopes the organized memorial run shows the unity aerial porters and Airmen around the world have in honoring their fallen.
“We’re here to honor and celebrate the life and legacy of Tech. Sgt. Curtis Ecceleston,” she said. “He had a reputation as a model NCO. There are memorial runs around the world in honor of his service, and having one here gives us a chance to honor the service of a fallen aerial porter.”
Smith said the port dogs wanted to pay tribute to Eccleston by performing the memorial in unity, which she thinks honors his legacy.
More than 30 aerial porters from across the base came out to honor Eccleston, many of them whom didn’t know Eccleston personally, but for others the memorial was a way to personally honor the loss of a close friend and mentor.
“I’m out here to remember Curtis,” said Staff Sgt. Patrick Chavez, a 19th LRS aerial delivery supervisor. “I remember the type of person he was: really friendly, really approachable. The run is only a small way to remember him … he was a great person, and it’s sad that we lost him. He meant a lot of things to a lot of people, and I learned a lot from him. He taught me a lot about myself, about being an NCO, being a leader; I really appreciate the things he did for me.”
Although he lost his friend two years ago, Chavez said he appreciates the chance to continue to pay tribute to a friend, even if the remembrance of lost loved ones is hard.
“I’m proud to still pay tribute to him,” he said. “I wish there was more I could have done or could do to remember him. I just hope that he’s resting in peace right now.”
Another friend who worked with Eccleston at Kadena remembers him as a “brother-in-arms.”
“Paying tribute to Eccleston means a lot,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Alessandrini, 19th LRS VCNCO, who worked with Eccleston at Kadena. “He was a good guy in our career field. He was a hard worker; he was always a friendly guy in the squadron. Everybody loved him. He was a brother-in-arms; he was the spitting image of a brother-in-arms. It means a lot to come out here and do this for him.”
Alessandrini said he’s glad about the run because it reminds him of the accomplishments and good things about his friend.
“Even though this happened two years ago, it’s good to come together for people that made differences,” he said. “Curtis was one of those people that did that, and I’m glad that I can come out here and pay tribute to him.”