Face of Defense: Soldier Aids Wounded Warriors
By Army Capt. Ozzie Santiago Smith III
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
NORTH SHORE, Hawaii, May 12, 2011 People run grueling 26-mile marathons for all kinds of reasons -- for a personal challenge, because they're competitive, or maybe because it's just a great way to stay physically fit.
Army Staff Sgt. Marc Dibernardo, E Company, 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, who wears a gas mask when he runs for soldiers wounded in combat, participates in the North Shore Marathon with assistance from members of Team Red, White, and Blue at North Shore, Hawaii, May 1, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Michael Linnington
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
However, Army Staff Sgt. Marc Dibernardo pounds pavement because he wants to honor the service of his fallen comrades and to support the nation’s wounded warriors.
A member of E Company, 2-25th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Dibernardo runs to raise cash for the support and recovery of wounded warriors, and he's been running donned in shorts, shoes, t-shirt -- and gas mask -- since 2003.
While he runs for all wounded warriors -- sailors, airmen, Marines and soldiers -- Dibernardo's participation in the North Shore Marathon on May 1, 2011, was in memory of 10 friends he’d lost in Afghanistan and those comrades who’d succumbed to their combat wounds when they’d returned stateside for advanced medical treatment.
After crossing the finish line, Dibernardo was unofficially informed he’d finished the course in 3 hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds, breaking the previous world record by five minutes for an individual running a marathon in a gas mask.
Sponsored by Team Red, White and Blue, a non-profit organization that aids wounded warriors by sponsoring extreme athletes, Dibernardo helps the team with a unique support system for veterans, families and friends recovering from injuries received during combat operations.
Donations raised by the team are used to fund the reintegration of wounded warriors back into civilian society.
"The fallen and wounded warriors are the heroes. I'm not a hero. They're heroes," Dibernardo said. "This is the best way I know how to let the world know about the sacrifices being made by our soldiers."
Members of Dibernardo’s chain of command rally behind him.
"I'm very proud of him. It's an outstanding thing what he's doing and a great reason why he's doing it," said Army 1st Sgt. Henry Wood.
"I'm really proud of him it's incredible what he is doing running a marathon and in a gas mask, said Army Capt. Lindsay Maples, Dibernardo’s company commander. “We let him do his own training during physical fitness time.”