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32nd APS hosts annual memorial run

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Heim, 32nd Aerial Port Squadron superintendent, waits for fellow Airmen to finish the annual Port Dawg Memorial Run at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2021. The names on the back of the shirt are aerial port Airmen that have passed since last year.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Heim, 32nd Aerial Port Squadron superintendent, waits for fellow Airmen to finish the annual Port Dawg Memorial Run at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2021. The names on the back of the shirt are aerial port Airmen that have passed since last year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Airmen assigned to the 32nd Aerial Port Squadron run the annual Port Dawg Memorial Run on the flight line at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2021. The PDMR is the way aerial port Airmen from around the Air Force pay respect to their fallen Airmen from the previous year.

Airmen assigned to the 32nd Aerial Port Squadron run the annual Port Dawg Memorial Run on the flight line at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2021. The PDMR is the way aerial port Airmen from around the Air Force pay respect to their fallen Airmen from the previous year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Airmen assigned to the 32nd Aerial Port Squadron gather around a display that honors fallen aerial port Airmen before running the Port Dawg Memorial Run at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2021. The PDMR started in 2013 at Kadena Air Base, Japan, when aerial port Airmen wanted a way to pay their respects to one of their fallen fellows, Tech. Sgt. Curtis E. Eccleston.

Airmen assigned to the 32nd Aerial Port Squadron gather around a display that honors fallen aerial port Airmen before running the Port Dawg Memorial Run at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2021. The PDMR started in 2013 at Kadena Air Base, Japan, when aerial port Airmen wanted a way to pay their respects to one of their fallen fellows, Tech. Sgt. Curtis E. Eccleston. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. --

Blocked out, but not forgotten. These words are emblazoned on the shirts of the Airmen assigned to the 32nd Aerial Port Squadron as they run on the flight line. The blistering sun beats on their backs, illuminating the names of fallen Port Dawgs, as they are known.

The 32nd APS participated in the annual Port Dawg Memorial Run at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2021.

Every year, aerial port Airmen from around the Air Force participate in the PDMR as a way to pay respect to fallen Port Dawgs from the previous year. The memorial event started in 2013 at Kadena Air Base, Japan, when Port Dawgs wanted a way to pay their respects to one of their fallen fellows, Tech. Sgt. Curtis E. Eccleston.

“It shows honor to those who came before us, those who sacrificed,” said Tech. Sgt. Mason Davis, 32nd APS load planner. “It is always important to remember the heritage you come from and celebrate it as well.”

Every year, before the run, Airmen gather around a display with chains and tie-down devices and read out the names of fallen Port Dawgs from the previous year. As the names are read off one by one, an Airman will walk up to the display and take one of the tie-down devices to carry it for the duration of the run.

“The tie-down devices represent the fallen members,” said Davis. “We use the device to tie down items on our aircraft. It holds a special connection because it's something that all aerial port [Airmen] use and are familiar with.”

While the run is about honoring those who have fallen, Port Dawgs use it as a way to remind themselves of what brings them together.

“It's in memoriam,” said Master Sgt. Leanne Morgan, 32nd APS passenger services supervisor. “But it's also a reminder of our work ethic. The Airmen get so pumped up and it is one of the things that brings us together. It ignites something in us again to remember why we're coming together.”