Jacobson memorial ruck march

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Before the sun rose, the 17th Security Forces Squadron and other Goodfellow members marched six miles, in honor of Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson, Sept. 28.

The event opened with the ruck marchers standing in formation. Senior Master Sgt. Russell Weatherby, 17th Security Forces Squadron individual mobilization augmenter, took roll call until the name fell on Jacobson, where the group had a moment of silence in her honor. From here the formation proceeded to march off the parade field and onto the perimeter road around base.

The marchers carried 21 lbs in their rucksacks, a symbol representing Jacobson’s age when she was killed in action.

“It means that her name will be carried on throughout the history of Goodfellow,” said Weatherby. “Not only do we see her name on the gate, or in front of our unit, but people learn what she did and the sacrifice she gave that day.”

Jacobson was KIA Sept. 28, 2005 on patrol near the Iraqi town Safwan. Her vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, killing her and U.S. Army Sgt. Steve Mornin. She was the first security forces Airman and first female Airman to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Weatherby led Jacobson’s fire team and was present the day it all happened.

“She was a shining light here,” said Weatherby. “Forgetting what she did would be terrible for our career field.”

Her legacy remains at Goodfellow, and throughout the Air Force with an award called the Elizabeth N. Jacobson Award for Expeditionary Excellence, and a street on Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait was renamed Jacobson Avenue in her honor. On Lackland Air Force Base there is the Jacobson Training Facility for Security Force members and the library in the facility has numerous mementos from Jacobson. The Travis Air Force Base First Term Airman's Center is also named after Jacobson.

“Putting on the ruck and doing the ruck for Airman Jacobson means a lot. She paid the ultimate sacrifice, and every year we come out and participate in the march to remember her,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Karas, 17th Security Forces Squadron unit training noncommissioned officer in charge. “It’s great, honestly. I got here last year just in time to do it for my first time - to be able to do it again is just awesome. I’m going to be doing it every year. She’s a hero. She’s a lot more than just the first female that died. The more that we do this, the more people that come out - the more we talk about who she was and how many people she’s touched, not only through her career, but her life.”

The ruck march ended at the parade field. Weatherby closed with thanking everyone that came out to march. A prayer was read and then the squad fell out.

“I miss her,” said Weatherby. “The mission we did that day is just something we look back on and go, ‘look what we did, look where we came from, look what where we’ve been.’”