BENEFITING: MARSOC FOUNDATION
EVENT DATE: Jul 24, 2016
My cousin Kevin Devine and I will be competing in the Ironman Lake Placid Triathlon on July 24, 2016. The race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. We are racing in support of The MARSOC Foundation, an organization that assists the families and fellow Marines of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). We are racing to honor the men of Marine Special Operations Team 8231 who sacrificed their lives on March 10, 2015 and July 24, 2012, and all Marines from MARSOC who have given their lives in service to their country.
The men of MSOT 8231 were dear friends and teammates of mine, and I ask you to help me continue to celebrate their lives and their legacy. On the night of March 10, 2015, these Marine Raiders, forever known as the Raider 7, lost their lives on a training mission off the Gulf Coast of Florida when the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter they were riding in crashed into the water just off the coast. Capt. Stanford H. Shaw III, Master Sgt. Thomas A. Saunders, Staff Sgt. Andrew C. Seif, Staff Sgt. Liam A. Flynn, Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol, Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock and Staff Sgt. Kerry M. Kemp were elite U.S. Marines training for their next deployment. Their courage, passion, skill, and pure love for life will never be forgotten. MSgt. Tom Saunders had recently been recognized as the Critical Skills Operator of the Year. And just three days prior to their tragic crash, SSgt. Andy Seif had been awarded the Silver Star for his valor and actions in Afghanistan in 2012. The USO also recognized him as the Marine of the Year in 2013. Andy’s actions in 2012 were alongside Sgt. Justin Hansen during a raid to prosecute a high value target. Sgt. Justin Hansen was killed during that engagement on July 24, 2012 and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions. I had the privilege of sitting at Andy’s table the night he received his award from the USO. And the very next day, as I ran the Marine Corps Marathon to honor Justin, Andy met me at mile 24 and handed me Justin’s American Flag to run across the finish line. These men were dear friends of mine and countless others. They were, as the Washington Post article below points out, larger than life, both physically and metaphorically. And so it is only fitting that the Ironman this summer is on July 24, so Justin and the Raider 7 can watch over us.
Serving on Marine Special Operations Team 8231 with these men was the highest privilege of my career. It was an honor to know these men and a greater honor to call them friends, teammates, and brothers. And it has been a wonderful privilege to meet their families, who have become our families as well. As we celebrate their memory, please help me in raising funds to support The MARSOC Foundation so they may continue to help the men and women of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. Each of these men lived a life worthy of celebration. And so while we remember their loss with sadness, let’s smile, laugh, and celebrate the lives they lived. Because they wouldn’t have it any other way.
And for those that would like to read the stories of the men above, here are several links to news articles that tell the stories of these silent warriors.