Words & Photos: National Guard Birthday Run at Camp Murray

By Gary Lott on December 13, 2014

"It is important to celebrate the birthday of the Army National Guard in order to take a little time to remember that we are part of an enduring, professional organization built on irreplaceable values with a unified purpose," said Lt. Col. Don Brewer, Washington National Guard Family Programs director. "Sometimes, it is easy to take for granted very important things and in the process, forget who we are and where we have come from. Celebrating the birthday of the Army National Guard gives us an opportunity to remember and be grateful."

Then, everyone went on a run.

Dozens of servicemembers and their families braved the high-wind storms and cold morning weather to join together and run the perimeter of Camp Murray for a National Guard Birthday Run Dec. 12. The event had two goals:to honor the many contributions of the National Guard, as well as to provide senior leadership with the opportunity to join their enlisted servicemembers - and their families - to stress the importance of morale, resiliency and fitness.

"These types of events are extremely important because they help build confidence, trust and friendship between people who might not normally spend time together outside of the workplace," said Brewer.

>>> The Washington National Guard's Family Programs Director, Lt. Col. Don Brewer, shares with the crowd of servicemembers the importance of "never forgetting" the accomplishments of those servicemembers that came before. 

>>> Members of the Washington National Guard participated in a Camp Murray Fun Run Dec. 12 to honor and build awareness for the National Guard's 378th birthday, which will take place Dec. 13. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> A line of Washington National Guard servicemember runners start their 5k trek around the perimeter of Camp Murray in front of the iconic minuteman statue that sits affront the Washington National Guard headquarters. Photo credit: Gary Lott

National Guard History

Founded in 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony - comprised of more than 5,000 European men, women and children - made the long voyage to the New World, or now called United States of America. With the long and uncertain move away from their homeland, the leaders of the New World wanted a ready, willing and able group of citizens that were ready at a moment's notice to protect and serve the new continent. Thus, the National Guard was formed into existence with a direct declaration signed into law on Dec. 13, 1636.

The National Guard is the longest serving military branch, and was in place even before the United States was "officially" a country. These community warriors became the "Always Ready, Always There" force structure that to this day are still protecting the homes of the communities they serve.

Just in the past year, the Washington National Guard became a "savior" for many Washingtonians, by assisting with the plaguing wildfires that hit Eastern and Central Washington, as well as assisting with the devastation caused by the SR 530 landslide.

These two emergencies are perfect examples again of how the National Guard may serve in many of the same capacities that our active-duty military branches do, but in a much different and impactful light.

>>> Sgt. 1st Class Robert Chinneth of the Washington National Guard was running faster than the five miles per hour speed limit sign through the RV Park next to American Lake. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> The Assistant Operations NCO of G1, 1st Sgt. Berndt, runs besides the barbed-wire fences along the perimeter of Camp Murray.

National Guard Component

The National Guard may be viewed upon as similar to all the other military branches, and in many ways that statement is correct. The servicemembers deploy, attend basic training, conduct regular physical training and sacrifice their lives for this country. The major difference between the National Guard and other branches, is the majority of guardsmembers were born in, serve in and, one day will die in the same state that they serve. All servicemembers serve this nation, but only one branch gets the opportunity to defend and constantly support the places they have always and may always call home.

National Guard Birthday Run

Joint Services Support Directorate for the Washington National Guard (JSS), Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve (ESGR), Recruiting & Retention Battalion (RRB) and the National Guard Association of Washington (NGAW) held the National Guard Birthday Run to honor the sacrifices of those before and to raise awareness and pride for those serving today.

"Being willing to come out and run on a cold, wet and dreary morning with a handful of other soldiers and airmen portrays a positive message that the Adjutant General of Washington still enjoys the camaraderie that happens when you get out and work hard with your people," said Brewer. "It is a positive message of no leader being above his or her people."

The Washington National Guard's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, joined the run to help stress the importance of the National Guard's accomplishments, as well as to emphasize the importance of soldier morale, fitness and resiliency overall.

"The older I get the more I understand how important it is to never forget our history," said Daugherty. "Forgetting the history of our organization can facilitate forgetting our values and our purpose. Conversely, remembering the history of our organization can help us to remember our values and purpose."

It seems apparent that the Washington National Guard will not forget those that have gone before them; those service members who have shed blood, sweat and tears in order to make the organization what it is today.

"Taking a few minutes to remember our history can ultimately produce a renewed sense of pride and gratitude that just might make a difference in the way that we approach our jobs and our families on any given day," added Daugherty.

>>> Sgt. 1st Class Robert Chinneth was the first place male finisher for the Camp Murray National Guard Run Dec. 12. Chinneth finished the 5k-plus run around Camp Murray in just over 20 minutes. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Sgt. 1st Class Hopkins, Staff Sgt. Murray and Spc. Gines finish the final stretch of the Washington National Guard's National Guard Birthday Run. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> The Washington National Guard's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, left, receives support from his servicemembers while crossing the finish line of the 5K run around Camp Murray. Daugherty ran alongside the Joint Services Support and Family Programs Director Lt. Col. Don Brewer to honor the National Guard's 378th birthday. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> The spouse of a Washington National Guard servicemember shows off the Recruiting and Retention Battalion "Swag Bag" that she received for finishing with the top female time.

>>> The Washington National Guard's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, reiterates the importance of National Guard history and the impacts of the guard throughout the centuries following a National Guard Birthday Run around the perimeter of Camp Murray Dec. 12. Photo by Gary Lott

>>> The youngest attendee of the National Guard Birthday Run, held by the Joint Services Support Directorate Dec. 12, joins the Washington National Guard's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, to conduct the official National Guard 378th birthday cake cutting ceremony. Photo credit: Gary Lott