'Operation One Voice' runs into town

Photo by Terry Lewis

Photo by Terry Lewis

ALBANY, Ga. -- U.S. Marines, accompanied by a group from Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany and local public safety officers, ran in formation through downtown Albany Monday and gathered at the Veterans Park Amphitheatre as part of a 625-mile fundraiser for the families of fallen and injured special forces soldiers.

The group, running in two shifts of 26 each, left Duluth on Sunday and planned to arrive at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Wednesday.

"To me, Albany is the highlight of this event," Operation One Voice organizer Laird Camby said Monday. "Albany is a patriotic town, small town, home to a large military base. To me Albany symbolizes what this run is all about.

"When we arrive at McDill on Wednesday, we plan on having a memorial service for special ops forces killed this year."

Operation One Voice is a nonprofit organization that works to provide resources and help to families of special operations forces. To date, the organization has raised more than $166,000 for educational scholarships and opportunities for the children of Special Operations Forces and has provided much more in stop-gap funding for families struggling to provide support for their loved ones injured or killed in action during service overseas.

Special Operation Forces consist of US Army Special Operations Command, Naval Special Warfare Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Marine Force Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operation Command.

Each year, during the fourth quarter, Operation One Voice, with support from the United States Special Operations Command Care Coalition, chooses 10-12 recipients to receive funds raised by the group.

"Helping these families prepare for the future is one of our main goals at Operation One Voice," Lt. Bill Stevens, a Duluth police officer and founder of Operation One Voice, said. "We are not alone in our work; public safety officers have formed OOV chapters in Hall County, the group's North Georgia Chapter, a Southwest Georgia Chapter in Albany and a North Florida Chapter in Tallahassee.

"Just like in a police, fire or special ops community, we're a team effort and pull together."