BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The Marines and poolees of Recruiting Substation Binghamton, Recruiting Station Albany are helping keep the memory of a fallen Marine alive.
Saturday marked the 8th Annual McKenna Memorial 5K, in honor of Capt. John J. McKenna IV.
In August of 2006, McKenna was serving with 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment in Fallujah, Iraq, when he was killed in action. He was a native of New York City and a graduate of Binghamton University where was recognized as a key member of the university’s crew team.
McKenna also served as a New York State trooper out of the Albany Barracks of Troop G.
Of the hundreds of runners who participated in this year’s memorial, roughly 35 of them were Marines and poolees assigned to RSS Binghamton. Poolees are the men and women in the Delayed Entry Program. They were all led by the unit’s staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Gunnery Sgt. Jose Cabrera.
Cabrera, who took over as the unit’s SNCOIC three years ago, noted that his unit has participated in the memorial run each year since its inception.
He said, first and foremost, it’s important to honor the memory of a fellow Marine who gave everything for his country.
“[McKenna] embodied our core values of honor, courage, and commitment in everything that he did,” Cabrera said. “That’s what I stress to those looking to join the Marines. There is something exceptional in somebody who understands the dangers in what we do, and still volunteers to do it.”
RS Albany’s top enlisted man also attended the event to run with the poolees and remind them of the commitment of men like McKenna and all those who join the ranks of the Marine Corps.
“It takes heart and 100 percent dedication,” Sgt. Maj. John D. Calhoun, RS Albany’s sergeant major, told the poolees after the run. “It’s exactly what you’ll have to dig deep for to get through recruit training and it’s exactly what you’ll rely on when you’re serving around the world, side-by-side with your fellow Marines.”
Cabrera said he knows the Marines and residents of Binghamton will continue to celebrate McKenna’s life and hopes the community will also remember the young men and women who continue to raise their hand and serve.
“I think that’s what America needs to see from the Marines. That the torch is being passed from one generation to the next,” he said. “Many of these individuals believe that the number of years in your life are meaningless compared to the amount of life in your years."