Husky Ruck Memorial 10K
It has been the greatest privilege for me over the years to honor our fallen heroes throughout the state of Maine and across the country in so many different ways. I am a Marine myself with 10 years of active duty military service and unfortunately have experienced the loss of many comrades during my tenure. These men and women stood up so selflessly in support of the conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan and believed so whole-heartedly in this mission that they were willing to place their lives on the line in order to protect those whom they had never even met before. I am so very privileged to have had the honor to serve beside them, and consider many my closest of friends. Mark was one of these selfless individuals, and while I never had the opportunity of meeting him prior to his passing, his family has welcomed me into their lives with open arms – an honor of which I am most grateful for and forever indebted to.
Upon leaving active service in the fall of 2013, I became heavily involved in a program called The Summit Project (TSP) whose mission is to honor [Maine’s] newest war casualties and the faithful spirit of all Mainers. Within this program, we work with Gold Star Families to help carry forth the legacies left behind by our fallen heroes by carrying stones dedicated to these great men and women from summit to summit throughout the state of Maine, across the country, and around the world. Just prior to its inaugural hike at Baxter State Park over Memorial Day Weekend in May of 2014, I received the honor of carrying forth the stone and story of Cpl Goyet to the summit of the Owl.
One day, as I was preparing for this experience, I received a phone call from a good friend of mine that I had served with in Hawaii. He had heard that I was dedicating this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend to the legacy of Mark and the sacrifice he made for all of us. After our time stationed together on Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, I returned with my family to my home state of Maine while he was transferred to Parris Island to become a Marine Corps Drill Instructor. On the phone, he kept telling me how happy he was to hear that I was honoring Cpl Goyet on this very special day, and that he was soon to be honoring Mark himself during the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon that same year. Surprised (and a little confused) I thanked him for doing so but confessed that I did not understand his connection to Mark. Through the phone line, I could hear a smile form on his face as he told me to hold on for a moment. The next voice I heard stopped my heart and I had to sit down as I heard the next words spoken: “Hi Greg, my name is Jenna. I am Mark’s sister!”
Jenna is the wife of Josh Cordy, fellow Marine Corps Drill Instructor who was serving with my friend Courtney at the time. I was familiar with Jenna and her daughter, Mia, through stories that I had learned during my preparation for the TSP Memorial Day Hike climb at Baxter, though I had never had the privilege of speaking to her – or any of Mark’s family members – in person before then. For the next 30 minutes, we talked on the phone as she told me story after story about her and Mark. She told me about how Mia very lovingly (and humorously) gave Mark his endearing nickname “Oink Mark.” She told me how big a Red Sox fan he was and about their trip to a SF Giants vs LA Dodgers game when Mark was dressed head to toe in Red Sox attire and cheering for the Red Sox through the first three innings. She told me of his love for his friends and family, and about how he put off his schooling to volunteer for this final deployment in order to serve alongside his friends – fully knowing how dangerous the dynamics of this deployment would be. Though Jenna and I had never met before, I was amazed at the instant bond that was formed between us in the very short time that we spoke. And gradually over the next few months, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with so many of Mark’s closest friends and relatives. This has been the greatest honor to me, and in doing so, my family grew tenfold.
When I spoke with Ray Goyet, I learned about not only the tragedy of losing Mark, but of the subsequent challenges the family had faced over the following year. And I promised him that if I ever had the opportunity to honor Mark and support the Cpl Mark Goyet Memorial Foundation in a truly special and significant way that I would do so with every ounce of my being. That following year, with the support from the Veterans Services Dept of the University of Southern Maine and a detachment of the Student Veterans of America called the Husky Veterans, my team and I were able to create an annual event in honor of Mark called the Husky Ruck Memorial 10k.
During this event, members of the surrounding community come together to participate and/or compete in a 10k military ruck carrying weighted packs on their backs through the trails of Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, ME before confronting The Crucible – a rigorous obstacle course which challenges the will and perseverance of every competitor as they push towards the finish. Proceeds of this event are used by the CMGMF to create scholarship opportunities in Mark’s name for veterans at the University of Southern Maine.
The people from our surrounding area have always been such tremendous supporters of military communities everywhere. It is this steadfast devotion that ultimately creates such an incredible difference in the lives of our service members and all who have been affected by the ongoing conflicts around the world. By helping us fulfill this mission, we continue to demonstrate the same qualities which Mark personified over the course of his lifetime. We continue to serve a greater purpose, and by facing these challenges, Mark lives on through the course of our action.
To the Goyet Family: Thank you so much for allowing me the honor of carrying forth Mark’s legacy. Thank you for letting me teach people of his story. And most importantly, thank you for welcoming me into your family as you have so very kindly done over the past years. I love you all so much, and hope each of you know that even after Mark’s passing, he continuously impacts my life in ways that I otherwise could never imagine. Thank you for everything you do. I am forever indebted to all of you.
Executive Director of The Summit Project
HRM10K Race Director for the Cpl Mark Goyet Memorial Foundation, Inc
Greg Johnson is a 10-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps who has dedicated his service to our fallen heroes with organizations such as The Summit Project and the Cpl Mark Goyet Memorial Foundation, Inc. During his military career, Sgt Johnson deployed on (5) separate occasions – to include (3) deployments to Iraq, (1) to Afghanistan, and (1) to Okinawa during a Unit Deployment Program. Born and raised in Maine, he is a University of Southern Maine alumnus where he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology and a minor in Nature-Based Tourism. He currently works at Pratt & Whitney as a Senior Supervisor of parts production in direct support of advanced aerospace technology for commercial, military, and government programs around the world. As an avid outdoorsmen, his most favorite pastime activities include spending time out on the water with his wife and three kids and embarking upon new wilderness adventures at every possible chance he gets.