Port Dawg Memorial Run held at Niagara

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kari Siltz
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

On May 5, 2023, the 30th Aerial Port Squadron held an annual Port Dawgs Memorial Run at NFARS.  This memorial run is an event organized to honor the U.S. Air Force aerial port members that have lost their lives.

The 10 year anniversary of the Port Dawg Memorial run traces back to 2011, when Tech. Sgt. Curtis E. Eccleston was murdered. Port Dawgs stationed at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, initiated the first Port Dawg Memorial Run in honor of their fallen comrade in 2013. Since then, the 5K annual event is now hosted Air Force wide all around the world.

“This year, it’s special because a retiree from 30 APS passed away last year," said Staff Sgt. Emily Urbanczyk, referring to Master Sgt. Erok VanDyke.

The aerial port career field throughout the Air Force is a close knit group of professionals.

 “This year, we celebrate the lives of six of our fallen teammates,” said Lt. Col. Kristen Horan, 30 APS commander; “and most importantly near and dear to our hearts, retired Master Sgt. Erok VanDyke.”

VanDyke’s family: wife, mother, sister, and three kids, joined the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Port Dawg family in the 5K memorial run.

The names of all of the fallen port dawgs, including the six lost within the past year, are listed in honor on the back of the memorial run shirt donned by many of the runners.

A tree has been planted by the 914th Air Refueling Wing outside of the Wing’s headquarters building in dedication to VanDyke.