By Colin Bado, TSB Staff
“(Carry The Load) is a 20-hour march with an extra 50 pounds of Mountain Ruck weighing me down. I have the names of friends who were lost in battle stitched to my pack. Why am I doing this? Because I want to honor those who served before me, those who served with me, and for those who continue to serve so that US Citizens can live freely.”
-Staff Sergeant Jake McCormack
Monday is Memorial Day, and while many of us are anxiously awaiting a three-day weekend, Staff Sergeant Jake McCormack of McKinney is preparing to “Carry The Load.”
This isn’t your typical “family-friendly fundraiser.” Founded by former Navy Seal Clint Bruce, “Carry The Load” is a non-profit organization that commemorates Memorial Day by conducting a grueling, 20-hour nationwide event that honors veterans and active duty service members, law enforcement officers, firefighters and their families. “Carry The Load” aspires to raise one million dollars to help those in need, and at $812,000, they’re almost there. Every individual participating is looking for sponsors to reach their financial goals.
McCormack and his team “Semper Fi Warriors” are doing their part, and they are currently seeking sponsorships. A member of that team is McKinney North assistant football coach Joe Welock, a former Marine who serves as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator.
The march begins at 4 p.m. Sunday and ends shortly after noon on Monday. The Dallas event, at which the Semper Fi Warriors will participate, is located atReverchon Park/Katy Trail at 3505 Maple Avenue.
Fortunately, there are men like McCormack and Welock to remind us of the true meaning of Memorial Day. McCormack graduated from high school in June of 2003, and by the fall, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Before his 24 birthday, McCormack participated in two tours in Iraq and lost six of his brothers.
“Initially, I deployed in 2005 to Iraq,” McCormack said. “I was there for seven months. During my first deployment, I was 19 and there were 250 guys in our company. I know that seems like a lot, but we’re very close. We lost two guys in the first deployment; one was killed by an IED and the other was killed by an IED suicide bomber. One of the men, Lance Corporal Chase Comley, was young. We were close… As a soldier you train for everything, but you don’t know what to expect,” said McCormack.
“The second time I deployed, I went right back to Iraq. We lost 4 guys. It never gets easy. Those guys are like brothers. You get angry, and you want to do something, but there’s nothing you can do.”
McCormack is from Washington State originally, but by choice resides in Texas. His grandfather was in World War II, his father and uncle in Vietnam, McCormack was destined for the military. There was no debate; he wanted to be the best of the best. He knew he was going to be a Marine.
After spending nearly a decade in the Marines as a part of the Marine Amphibious Assault Crewman, he has been working as a recruiter in the North Texas area for the last two years. Including spending time in the McKinney High Schools.
“I discovered `Carry The Load’ by a good friend of mine, Joe Welock,” McCormack said. “We met at McKinney North, and we’ve been close ever sine. He was in involved with it and told me about it about a month in half ago. Once I heard of it, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
“Memorial Day has always been special to me. My wife knows I don’t like to go out and do much. I reflect, keep to myself and talk to guys I was deployed with. `Carry The Load’ will allow me to do that and be more active and influential.”
Memorial Day is a time for honoring those who serve and sacrifice their time and well-being on behalf of the greater good. Memorial Day really makes you appreciate what you have. Don’t take things for granted McCormack reminds those who will listen.
“I feel like there is a big disconnect,” McCormack said. “I participated in two tours and seeing how people perceive Memorial Day as a time to barbecue and have a three-day weekend is saddening.”
McCormack reflected that Memorial Day is a reminder of what a remarkable nation we live in. It really makes you appreciate everything we have, and shouldn’t allow us to take things for granted.
“We have people who serve so that we can live the way we live. Memorial Day is not free time off, its time to remember and reflect. Remember that as a nation we support our troops,” said McCormack.”
Photos: At top, patrol in Iraq 2005 (McCormack is on the left); Above Right, McCormack at Marine Corps Ball 2010; and Below, McCormack’s platoon in Iraq, 2007.