America’s Mighty Warriors Military Race took place on Sunday, November 4th at Clermont Historic Village and strategic areas along scenic Lake Minneola lakefront.
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The annual event is held to honor local vets and service members and to help raise awareness and funding for The America’s Mighty Warriors (AMW). Josh Castleman, the organizer, describes the race as an option for everyone.
A vision began when Josh, a life-long resident of South Lake County, was watching the History Channel on Veterans Day 2016. A clip aired on The America’s Mighty Warriors (AMW), a charity founded by Debbie Lee.
Josh’s friend, an Army Ranger who was medically retired after being injured by a roadside bomb, had recently shared some of the difficulties he was dealing with. The issues that he was facing were the same issues as AMW was working to address (PTSD and Traumatic Brain-Injury).
Josh became motivated. He decided to contact Debbie Lee who started the organization to help military families after her son became the first Navy seal to be killed in action in Iraq in 2006. The conversation inspired him to begin organizing a unique race, that is gaining momentum each year.
This year, over 300 people participated in the race that offers an option for everyone. Participants can do a 2-mile walk/run, a 2-mile walk/run with 5 physical training stations (one for each branch of the U.S. Military), or a 4-mile walk/run with 10 physical training stations.
To kick off the event, The U.S Naval Sea Cadet Corps-Clermont Battalion presented colors. Clermont Battalion is one of the newest units in the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
Some of the honorees included:
Frank Klum, a WWII veteran who served in the Army Air Corp. He entered the service in 1941 at the age of 18.
Charles Konsler, a 2ndLieutenant in the US Army Air Corps. He reported for active duty in January of 1943 at the age of 19. He flew 65 missions during WWI
Dominick Molinaro, a veteran of the US Army, who served as Private 1stClass in 1950 during the Korean War.
Jake Rhymer, represented the Air Force. He served until he was medically retired with an injury sustained during a jump. (Jake is a professional triathlete and lead participants of the race out on his bike. He also supervised the physical training station.
Master SGT Chris Singh represented the Air Force. He served 16 years in the Air force and 10 years in the Marines.
Sgt. 1stclass retired Steve McLeod represented the Army. He served his country from 1985-2006 and presently competes in local endurance events.
Bob Farrell represented the Army. Bob joined the army at age 17 in 1967. He served in Vietnam and Germany. Bob is also the quartermaster of the Clermont VFW and has been a huge supporter of this race since Day 1.
Lt. Rick Grimm represented the U.S. Coast Guard. Rick served from 1992-1998. He commanded a search and rescue station.
Butch Holt represented the U.S. Marines. Butch was Lance Corporal and served in Vietnam for 10 months as an infantry rifleman from 1968-69. He was combat wounded and received the Purple Heart on Feb 1969. (You can find him out here on the trail running or cycling almost every morning. He is one of the fastest endurance athletes in the nation for his age group).
SGT Luis Rivera is a U.S. Marine. Rivera served 9 years. Before he became a recruiter, he was logistics and motor chief in Garden City, NY.
Paul Hornberger represented the Navy. He served from 1961 to 1967 on submarines as a Machinist Mate. His youngest son served 12 years on board-fast attack submarines. His two Granddaughters served in the US Navy and his grandson is a SGT in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Jim Pickering represented the U.S. Navy. Jim served on active duty in the Pacific from 1976-82 followed by 15 years in the reserves. While on active duty, he was the Intelligence Officer in a dive bomber squadron making deployments aboard the USS Coral Sea and the USS Kitty Hawk. He was then stationed in Japan for 2 years on the staff of the 7th Fleet Submarine Force Commander.
(Some of the heroes indicated above assisted at the physical training stations during the race).
Marine SGT Luis Rivera demonstrated the exercises:
Air Force: 20 pushups
Army: 30 situps
Coast Guard: 30 jumping jacks
Marines: 30 squats
Navy: 20 burpees
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Some of the participants included:
- Major Scott—Mt. Dora High School AF JROTC
- Major Honeycutt—Leesburg High School AF JROTC
- Senior master Sgt Watkins – Eustis High School AF JROTC
- 1stSGT DeMalteris – Apopka MC JROTC
- SGT 1stClass Fridley – Minneola Charter JROTC -Mustang Company
- SSgt Osorio and the local Marine recruits
- Eustis Heights Elementary
- Groveland Elementary
- Magic Moments Team
- Chief of Police Chuck Broadway
- Diane Travis, Clermont City Council
- And the Race Timer: Former High-Speed 82nd Airborne Paratrooper, Nicholas Johnson
To view race results, visit: RACE RESULTS