MACON, Miss. (WTVA) - Ruck running is a very advanced form of fitness walking. On Saturday, it had a much bigger purpose.
Melvin Gatewood and his comrades started at Noxubee County High School and made their way onto highway 45. They represent the group Operations Continued Service. They carried out a ruck run with one mission.
"The worst thing to do is be forgotten," Melvin Gatewood said. "So that's one thing our organization is trying to do. Were trying to remember fallen military personals through rucks."
They walked for four miles until they arrived at the gravesite of sergeant Travis Cooper. To them, he's not just a fallen soldier. He’s someone they served with who gave his life for his country.
"Walk away with knowing freedom is not free," Gatewood said. "Someone lost a father, someone lost a brother, a son and I feel that these individuals are American heroes."
These military veterans were not alone, they stood with sergeant Cooper’s family.
"I appreciate it with the utmost respect," Sergeant Cooper's aunt said. "For someone to give the ultimate sacrifice, just as my nephew Travis and so many others have done."
Cooper joined the Army National Guard in 2000. Five years later, he lost his life while serving in Iraq. He was just 24, but that sacrifice motivated one of his cousins to serve just like he did.
"She and sergeant Cooper grew up together," Sergeant Cooper's aunt said. "After he lost his life, she decided to carry on his legacy by enlisting in the United States Army. So, that's what she did to carry on his memory."
On Saturday, members of Operations Continued Service also honored another fallen soldier in Aliceville, Alabama.