14th Trans hosts ‘Run Across Home Plate’ shadow run

Story by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson
Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Steve Johnson
196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers with the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), connected with runners back in the United States and Vicenza, Italy, May 23, during their “Run Across Home Plate” shadow run at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

“Run Across Home Plate,” sponsored in part by the Families First Foundation, is a fundraiser at Fenway Park sponsored by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital to support injured Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Runnels, command sergeant major with the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), and a Baton Rouge, La., native, heard about the run from his daughter and contacted the Families First Foundation.

“We were looking for events (in which) we could have a partnership with somebody back in the states or Italy, where our battalion headquarters is from, in order to get involved here at JBB,” said Lt. Col. James Rupkalvis, commander of the 14th Trans. Bn., and a Mitchell, Neb., native.

After weeks of coordination, the foundation sent a banner, T-shirts for each runner and a commemorative home base for the runners to cross as they finish, symbolizing the home base in Fenway Park, where the run would be completed in the United States.

Representatives with the unit’s partner organization, Families First Foundation, decided this was a good thing. They offered to make a donation to the foundation in support of injured Veterans at Massachusetts General Hospital on the unit’s behalf, Runnels said.

According to Melissa Ballou, the program’s administrator with the Families First Foundation, the main event stateside raised more than $2.3 million for injured Veterans. 

The shadow run bridged the more than 7,000 mile gap between service members and their Families in the United States, while encouraging physical fitness and camaraderie among all the runners.

Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., Army chief of staff, served as the official starter of the “Run Across Home Plate” main event.

Among the runners back in the states were current service members, their Families and Veterans.

“Family support is a combat multiplier for our Soldiers and Airmen to stay connected to what’s going on in Italy and back home in the states,” Rupkalvis said.  “For service members, situational awareness is important for everything.  It’s important to know what’s going on back in the states and to know what’s going on in the world.”

The 14th Trans. Bn. has several small components spread throughout Iraq, each of which had runners participate in the shadow run.

The battalion has 14 movement control teams at other locations in Iraq, Runnels said.  After reaching out to see if anyone was interested in participating in the run, the response was great, Runnels said

“This run is another way to give back and stay connected to the military,” he said. “It gives my service members the ability to contribute to their communities while in Iraq.  Selfless service is the whole mind-set.”

 

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Runners with the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), begin the “Run Across Home Plate” May 23 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The run, mirroring and event held at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass., was sponsored in part by the Families First Foundation, Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital to support injured veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Steve Johnson)

news photo
Service members with the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), poe for a group photo just before the start of “Run Across Home Plate” shadow run May 23 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The run, mirroring and event held at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass., was sponsored in part by the Families First Foundation, Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital to support injured Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Steve Johnson)

news photo
Service members with the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), pose for a group photojust before the start of “Run Across Home Plate” shadow run May 23 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The run, mirroring and event held at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass., was sponsored in part by the Families First Foundation, Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital to support injured Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Steve Johnson)