The ninth Annual Mountain Man Memorial March (MMMM) is scheduled for April 23, 2015 in Gatlinburg, TN. Originally organized in 2008, the march was a personal tribute for University of Tennessee Army ROTC Cadet - 1LT Frank Walkup, a 2005 UT graduate who was killed in action in Iraq. To honor his memory, a group of Cadets from the Rocky Top Battalion marched 26.2 miles with each Cadet carrying a 35-pound rucksack to represent his sacrifice.
The following year the cadets challenged ROTC units from across the Southeast to honor several other local fallen service members and their Gold Star Families (GSF). ROTC units not only from Tennessee but from Ohio to North Carolina responded.
Now, in its ninth year, this event has become one of the largest events in the United States to celebrate the service and honor the ultimate sacrifice of these fallen heroes. Along with more than 20 ROTC units, participants now include active duty military, reserve and guard units, veterans of all services, family & friends of the fallen, JROTC units, and even Cub Scouts Packs! Due to the overwhelming success of this unique event, The American Legion has partnered with the University of Tennessee’s Army and Air Force ROTC cadets to help with this enormous undertaking.
The weekend begins with an emotional ceremony in which the GSF meets the team and provides a photo and a signed GSF flag. Demonstrating “Honor through Action“– each of the five team members must complete the grueling 26.2-mile course though the Smoky Mountains wearing service uniform - including boots – and each carrying a 35-pound rucksack. And, to exemplify the military’s creed of “no man left behind”, all team members are required to cross the finish line together or the team is disqualified.
The MMMM consists of events for both runners and marchers, military and civilian participants, teams and individuals. Runners- come to the beautiful Smoky Mountains and compete in a challenging marathon, half-marathon or 10 KM race; marchers can compete as individuals or as a team, in military or civilian categories, heavy or light divisions and in distances of 26.2 miles or 13.1 miles.
The course takes you through downtown Gatlinburg and then winds its way along Highway 321 and then into the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Come enjoy the scenic views, the camaraderie, and challenge yourself all while honoring the families of our fallen heroes.