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Marine marchers honoring 2017 deadly military crash victims make it to Alabama

Marine Raider Memorial March participants crossed into the Talladega County near Birmingham on July 17, 2018. The 900-mile trek from Itta Bena, Mississippi to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina marks the first anniversary of a deadly military crash.

MARINE RAIDER MEMORIAL MARCH/FACEBOOK

By CAROL ROBINSON | Alabama Media Group (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 17, 2018

A group known as the Rucking Raiders marched through Alabama's Jefferson County early Tuesday morning as part of a somber, 900-mile trek to mark the first anniversary of a deadly military crash in the Mississippi Delta.

Jefferson County sheriff's deputies, Irondale police and Alabama state troopers were among the law enforcement agencies who escorted the team through the county. The escort in Jefferson County began in McCalla at midnight and traveled across the entire county.

The July 10, 2017 KC-130T Hercules aircraft crash in a soy bean field killed 15 Marines and a U.S. Navy sailor. Six of the Marines and the sailor were from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and were headed for pre-deployment training in Yuma, Arizona.

The Marine Raider Memorial March, funded through donations, began Saturday and will run through Friday, July 27. Teams of Marine Raiders and Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Navy Corpsmen are undertaking the ruck march, according to the group's website, that follows the path the aircraft took that day. It began at the crash site near Itta Bena, Mississippi and will end at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

According to organizers, the march symbolizes bringing the victims back home on the voyage that they were unable to make. The marchers will be carrying a Marine Raider Flag, packs weighted by sand bags filled with soil from the crash site, and the American flags that were draped over the caskets of the fallen brothers by first responders.

Once the march is completed, the soil from the crash site will be used to plant a tree at a memorial service at the Marine Corps Special Operations Command at Camp Lejeune.

The marchers got to Alabama Monday and are expected to finish their trek through the state Wednesday morning.

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