Travis AFB First Sergeant Council Hosts 12th Annual Gold Star Families 10k ruck march

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Karla Parra
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—Over 300 U.S. service members and civilians from Northern California participated in the 12th annual Gold Star Families 10K Ruck March at Travis Air Force Base, California, June 11, 2022.

The initiative led by the Travis AFB First Sergeant’s Council served as a reminder of the base’s dedication to honoring the Gold Star Family tradition as well as remembering those who paid the ultimate price to ensure our freedom. 

During the opening ceremony, Chief Master Sgt. Keith Scott, 60th Air Mobility Wing command chief, recognized the importance of keeping the memory of our fallen heroes alive as he recalled a quote of a Gold Star mother.

“Please don’t let my son die twice. The first, is when he did die. The second, is when we forget his name and we stop remembering him,” said Chief Scott. “And that’s why we are here, to pay respect.”

Among the 90 Gold Star Family members that attended the event, Pearl Velono and her two children stood near her deceased husband’s memorabilia.

“I was 38 weeks pregnant with a one year-old in Japan when my husband, [Master Sgt. Jonathan M. Velono] died. I felt so helpless,” said Velono.

“I gave birth at David Grant Medical Center and was so grateful when a Travis Spouses Club member offered help,” expressed Velono. “Ever since, I kept close to the Travis community and consider them [Travis Spouses Club] part of my family.”

Like Velono, every Gold Star Family who attended was eager to share about their loved one and their experience.

“They want to tell their story.” said Master Sgt. Cole Shepard, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant and lead coordinator.

Before the run, competitors were assigned a Gold Star Family as a way to bring more meaning to the event.

“They [the competitors] value meeting the Gold Star Families whose loved ones they are dedicating their ruck to,” said Sheppard. “It grants both the family and the competitors a more significant connection versus just reading someone’s profile.”

“We will never forget them [Gold Star Families] or what their loved ones gave for our freedom.” said Shepard. “We will uphold this tradition and allow them to continue to tell their stories.”

To learn more about Gold Star Family benefits and resources, visit