Friday's 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps will be a time for many of those who are or were Marines to focus on their time in "The Corps." And one of those is Maple Valley Attorney Dan Nielsen, who helped create an event called Always Brothers 100 Mile Memorial Run to raise money for families of Marines killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Nielsen, a founder, and treasurer of the board of the event recalled in an interview how he and 12 fellow Marines who had all served on Presidential Guard Duty in the mid-'90s teamed in 2011 to honor the memory of one of their own by establishing the 100-mile run.
Nielsen remembered that Always Brothers began its signature 100-mile honor run in August of 2011 for Capt. Tyler Swisher, a Marine Corps brother who lost his life in October 2005 and who had served on Presidential Guard duty with the Always Brothers founders and board members. Swisher was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq in 2005.
That first run, called "100 Miles for Swisher," began at Camp David with a goal of finishing at Swisher's grave at Arlington. But Nielsen remembers that "we needed to run a couple of times around the national mall to be sure we actually did 100 miles and when we did the mall, a couple Marines who were then on Presidential Guard ran along with us."
The 100-mile run over the next four years became an annual event, in different locations,
to honor fallen Marines and Navy Corpsmen who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan by raising money for the education of their children.
Two of the runs have been in Ohio. The first was to raise money families of Lima Company, 22 of whose Marines and one Navy corpsman were killed in Iraq in 2005 when the vehicle in which they were riding was blown up.
Seattle was the location for runs in 2013 and 2014 with the second done in conjunction with Marine Week. The beneficiaries were six children who lost a parent in In Iraq and Afghanistan from areas where our board members are from.
Circumstances interrupted the run after 2015, though Nielsen promised it will resume in 2018 "somewhere, maybe Seattle, or California."
I met Nielsen last month when we happened to sit next to each other at the annual Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF) dinner, an event held in various states to raise money for scholarships for children of U.S. Marines. It was being held in Seattle for the fourth time. We were both there as one-time Marines, supporting the event chaired this year by retired Marine major general Tracy Garrett.
The Always Brothers board made the MCSF the beneficiary of their 100-mile event fundraising in 2015 when they established an endowed scholarship in Tyler Swisher's name.
Reflecting on the success of the 2017 dinner, retired general Garrett said the event raised about $477,000 for the national fund.