The 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, received the Army Marathon military unit award July 18 at the Ironhorse Chapel.

Taking the top four runners from each unit, the Ironhorse Brigade received the lowest collective score of 399, earning them the first-place military unit award out of more than 1,000 runners.

“It feels great to have helped my brigade place so well,” said Spc. Jorge Hernandez, the Ironhorse first-place finisher and member of 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment.

The Army Marathon organization began long before the first Army Marathon was conducted. It was observed that veterans were returning from deployments with a wide variety of challenges and not enough resources to support their needs.

Four retired service members, Richard Archer, Gene Deutscher, Jay Taggart and Ed Bandas, were looking to make a difference and decided to come up with a plan to raise funds and awareness, fill-in the gaps of veterans services and to highlight the sacrifices of our service members.

“Sometimes our service men and women need a little more help than current programs allow,” said Bandas, a marathon coordinator. “Our mission is to augment those efforts while creating an honored tradition, an atmosphere of athletic achievement and competition and at the same time allowing our communities that surround Fort Hood to honor these heroes as well.”

The first Army Marathon took place April 21, in honor of the 238th anniversary of the ‘shot heard around the world,’ which was the beginning of the American Revolution, April 19, 1775. The 26.2-mile race began in Killeen, running through Harker Heights, Nolanville, Belton and ending in Temple.

“I am proud to be here with our team ... to present the ‘Strength in Unity Trophy’ to (the Ironhorse Brigade), to keep proudly,” Bandas said during the ceremony. “Also knowing it will be the only trophy that ever bears the words ‘Inaugural Army Marathon.’”

The trophy got its name “Strength in Unity,” from Aesop’s Fables classic tale of “The bundle of sticks.”

The tale explains how a father calls his sons to his deathbed and hands his oldest a bundle of sticks. He asks him to break them; he was unsuccessful. The father then unbundles the sticks and hands one to each son, asking them to break it, of course, they do.

“His wise counsel to his sons was, ‘There is strength in unity,’ suggesting his sons should forever stick together and protect each other as brothers,” Bandas said. “How appropriate for our military folks that this trophy should embody the lesson we have all learned during our service to our country.”

Bandas said the purpose of the marathon was to raise money for qualified veteran charities. Raising about $25,000, Bandas said their goal was reached.

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