By Tyler Hemstreet | Northwest Military News | Northwestmilitary.com | October 22, 2011
One group of active-duty Marines is hitting the trails to raise money for injured Servicemembers.
Fortunate Sons, a group of 18 Marines, are in the midst of collectively hiking the entire 1,000-mile North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail with the goal of raising money and awareness. The 42-day journey began Oct. 2 at Clingman's Dome in the Great Smokey Mountains and ends at Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks on Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 13.
All funds raised in support of the event will be given to the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund.
The plan began with a simple idea - complete an arduous task in remembrance of brothers in arms that have been wounded in defense of freedom, according to the group's website. The involved Marines, the "Fortunate Sons" have voluntarily donated their time and effort for personal reasons to the cause. The goal is to raise $1 million and as much awareness as possible for the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund. The Marines borrowed the name "Fortunate Sons" from the classic Creedance Clearwater song.
"The whole idea came from the song," Capt. Mark Greenlief, the Marine who kick-started the effort, told the Daly Review (Monmouth, Ill.) Atlas newspaper. "We are fortunate enough to be serving and serving at a time when there is a lot of support (for the military)."
Greenlief, a native of Kirkwood, Ill., is the commanding officer, Company E of the Infantry Training Battalion attached to the School of Infantry-East in North Carolina.
"North Carolina is a beautiful state and what better way to experience its beauty than by hiking its premier trail and meeting people along the way," Jeremiah Johnson, another Marine on the trip, told the newspaper. "In my opinion, North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in the union, and we hope to show our gratitude for the appreciation displayed by both the state's citizens and its government through raising awareness of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the communities that support it."
The group will walk for 43 days straight to complete its mission. The goal is to average just under a marathon (26.2 miles) per day. The Marines hope to emerge along the Outer Banks at Jockey's Ridge State Park on Nov. 13. The walk will be done as a relay, with two Marines on the trail at all times.
The Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance and quality of life solutions for Marines and Sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces, when they become injured in post 9-11 combat or training operations, or they face life threatening illness or injury.
Supporters can donate through the Semper Fi Fund website, SemperFiFund.org, and selecting "Fortunate Sons" as the event name on the donation form.