Four men, all officers in the U.S. Army, jogged into Corning on Monday afternoon escorting an American flag as they participated in the cross country Old Glory Relay in an effort to bring awareness to the needs of military veterans as they leave active duty and re-enter their communities.
All Army helicopter pilots, the men, Shane McKenna, Bryan Madden, Nate Spaulding and K Kirkendall from the National Guard base in Boise, Idaho, made their leg of the relay on Monday from Shingletown to Corning, where they would spend the night before another team started another southbound leg of the journey the next day.
"These men are members of Team Red White and Blue," said retired Marines Officer Ray Weeks, of Team Red White and Blue, and Old Glory Relay coordinator. "For the past two years we have the Old Glory Relay taking the flag across the United States to enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them to their communities through fitness and social activities."
The team from Boise were four of 62 teams, approximately 1,000 people, participating in this year's effort of taking the flag either on foot or bicycle across 10 states starting in the state of Washington and ending in Tampa, Fla., on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
McKenna said Monday's run restored his faith in people's patriotism.
"All along our route, people were waving and honking, saluting and shouting encouragement," he added.
As the team entered Corning carrying the flag southward on Highway 99W toward Solano Street, they stopped at the Corning Library lawn, where they received words of appreciation and commendation from Weeks and Patrick Griffith, Team Red White and Blue Southeast Region Program manager, and took pictures and video to record their leg of the flag's journey.
Weeks said this Old Glory trek started on Sept. 11 in Seattle, with Microsoft sponsoring and partnering in the effort.
"We believe as military veterans re-enter their communities it is important for that community to understand these men and women are civic assets," he saId. "That is our mission, to help communities and veterans come together and help each other out. That is why these men were willing to participate, volunteer and sacrifice to carry the flag and raise awareness."
Team Red White and Blue is a nonprofit organization that has 189 chapters across the states and over 110,000 members.