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Gunnery Sgt. Nickea Redding, Advanced Course student at Quantico’s Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy, reads the etched names of more than 58,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War who are memorialized on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Nov. 22, 2013. Quantico’s SNCO Academy, including students from Sergeants, Advanced, and Career courses, conducted a 7-mile Director’s Run that culminated their courses and honored the nation’s memorials and history. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cuong Le)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Cuong Le

Monumental moto run

27 Nov 2013 | Ameesha Felton

A rumbling hum of cadence could be heard through the streets of the nation’s capital early Friday morning as a throng of Marines from Quantico’s Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy participated in the Director’s Run.

The seven-mile motivational run culminated the completion of the Sergeants, Advanced, and Career Courses. Throughout the run Marines stopped at some of the nation’s most famous monuments and war memorials, including Vietnam, Marine Corps, World War II and Korean War Memorials as well as the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Martin Luther King Memorial.

It was the first time rising graduates from all three enlisted Professional Military Education courses, ran the Director’s Run together. Typically, the classes are too large for a combined run, but with only 66 graduates in total, Sgt. Maj. Darryl Cherry, director of the SNCO Academy at Quantico, said it was a great opportunity build camaraderie and show Marines the nation’s history.

“Many people live a whole lifetime in this very area and never walk on these hallowed grounds — they never experience their own nation’s history,” Cherry said.

The Marines honored those who gave their lives with a moment of silence, followed by brief PMEs on the significance of each memorial. The run ended in Arlington, at one of the Corps’ most iconic memorials, the Marine Corps War Memorial. While the Director’s Run serves as motivational physical training session, Cherry said it also gives Marines a reminder of the importance of their service. At the end of the event, as they stood gazing at the 32-foot high statue showing Marines raising a 60-foot bronze flagpole, Cherry reminded them that one of the Corps most courageous moments didn’t come from a high-ranking military member, but an everyday Marine.

“If you look at the monument it’s represented by all enlisted personnel: a sergeant, a corporal, three private first class Marines and a Navy corpsmen,” Cherry said standing in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial. “The Marines [SNCO Academy students] who are here before me are here for what we call that selfless reason. They unselfishly serve just like the Marines who are encapsulated behind me [at the Marine Corps War Memorial]. As we transition from the capitol to the Iwo Jima memorial, understand we’re here because there could be no purpose anymore noble, no cause any higher, than to serve your government.”

The academy held their graduation ceremony Tuesday at Little Hall.

Marine Corps Base Quantico