The Gaffney-Oglesby Detachment 1328 Marine Corps League is organizing the James H. Pirtle “Walk for Heroes”, an annual walk held around September 11th to commemorate the victims and responders of 9-11 2001, as well as all of the service men and women who were wounded or killed in the battle against terrorism.
Since September 11th falls on a Wednesday this year, the walk will be held on Friday, September 13th. The “Walk for Heroes” will depart from the Gateway Motel in Hurley at 11 pm on the 13th. Participants will walk the approximately 40 miles during the night, and the walk is expected to be completed around 2 pm when participants reach Diaz Farms in Deming.
The walk is named for James H. Pirtle, a native New Mexican, who was killed on the battlefield on October 4th, 2003 during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Pirtle’s mother, Kay Beeman, and good friend Elizabeth Lopez have, with the help of the Gaffney-Oglesby Marine Corps League this year, established this as an annual event. Lopez stated “It’s not just to commemorate the Americans who died for our country but First Responders, Firefighters, Policement and Civilians as well.”
“Somewhere between Hurley and Deming during many trips to Las Cruces for Doctor appointments, Mike Lopez (Elizabeth’s husband), who could not walk due to a back injury would tell her ‘someday I am going to walk this highway!’ This was his motivation for healing and walking after being told he might never walk again. As time went by, Mike did heal and, holding true to his word, organized the first walk. Mike chose 9/11 as a great day to make the walk; being an Army Veteran he felt a connection with this day. Before the walk began, Kay Beeman approached Mike and asked ‘would you carry this photo of my son? To me it was because of 9/11 that my son went to war.’ Mike proudly carried the photo Kay gave him; he still carries the photo.”
In past years, the walk has drawn crowds of 15 to 30 people, but with growing interest in the event, organizers this year are expecting up to 100 walkers. The public is invited and encouraged to participate and volunteer. Anyone wishing to participate, donate, or contribute in any way is encouraged to contact Walk Coordinator Elizabeth Lopez at 654-8226. Donations will be used to cover expenses, including fuel, beverages, medical and support personnel. Additional proceeds will be used to assist “Homeless Veterans”, Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots”, and “Wreaths Across America”, as well as the James H. Pirtle Foundation Scholarship Fund.