A four to five-mile ruck march will be taking place in downtown Silverdale Saturday morning in efforts to bring awareness to fallen veterans and to donate clothing and toiletries to the Kitsap Rescue Mission.
The event is one of more than 100 Operation Legacy service projects around the country in the month of November on behalf of the Travis Manion Foundation, one of the nation’s largest veteran nonprofit organizations. According to a press release, Operation Legacy aims to engage veterans, families of the fallen, and civilians alike, by activating them to lead and serve others in their communities.
“During this time of unprecedented divide throughout our country, it is reassuring to see volunteers from various backgrounds step forward in an effort to unite their community through service,” Amy Looney Heffernan said, Gold Star Wife of Lt. (SEAL) Brendan Looney and Vice President of TMF.
“By bringing communities together to serve in honor of our fallen heroes, we are not just keeping their legacy alive, we are passing their values along to the next generation of leaders.”
On April 29, 2007, Travis Manion, his fellow Marines, and Iraqi Army counterparts were ambushed while searching a suspected insurgent house in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, according to travismanion.org. Leading the counterattack against enemy forces, Manion was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper while aiding and drawing fire away from his wounded teammates.
For his actions, Manion was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star with Valor. The Travis Manion Foundation aims to continue growing his legacy, inspiring people to live with character and make an impact by serving others, according to travismanion.org.
Regarding the local charity event in Silverdale, project leader and veteran Steve Wiltz is part of the Kitsap Eagles Ruck Club. The club conducts roadside cleanups, food bank rucks, and is comprised of active-duty military, veterans, and their families. Their mission is to provide a supportive environment of camaraderie for participants.
“When the opportunity comes up, we’ve gotten involved every chance we can,” Wiltz said.
Wiltz is an eight-year submarine veteran and stated that he didn’t get the urge to start giving back to local veterans until recently.
“When I left the service, at the time I kind of shut that door behind me,” he said. “I was done with that part of my life. In the last five or six years, I started getting in touch with my veteran-self. On a personal level, it’s made me a little more proud to be a veteran. I want to be there for other vets.”
As of now, Wiltz said he has about 30 people registered for Saturday’s march and is hoping to get some local law enforcement officers out there as well.
“I encourage people to come out. Just go for a walk, carrying the weight is optional.”
As part of the service project, Wiltz has chosen to donate clothing and toiletries to the Kitsap Rescue Mission, which participants will be carrying on their backs during the rucking.
“I know the troubles they’re going through and they’re one of the few places who serve our homeless population,” he said. “It’s a local charity serving local people and that’s important to me.”
The event starts at 9 a.m. at the World of Beer in Silverdale. For more information, visit oplegacy.com/silverdale2019.