Red Ribbon Run sets example in KMC

Story and photo by Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Snapping the Red Ribbon Run finish line, Sgt. Joseph Campbell honored a personal commitment to his family and his community — to lead a healthy, drug and alcohol-free lifestyle.

Campbell, 32, a flight medic with the Landstuhl-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, missed U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Red Ribbon Run last year when his unit was deployed to Southern Afghanistan. He was among 3,525 people who attended the Oct. 22 event at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, including more than 1,060 runners, 900 walkers and dozens of dogs.

Winning the race was his goal, but running among hundreds of other KMC members really sets an example for younger people, Campbell
said. When offered drugs or alcohol, the community event should serve as a reminder, he said.

“When they get to that point, they need to already have the answer to that question in their head. The answer is no,” said Campbell, a native of Juniper, Idaho. “That’s how I always lived my life. The answer was always no.”

Lt. Col. Lars Zetterstrom, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, thanked garrison staff who worked countless hours coordinating the event — one of the largest Red Ribbon Week events in the entire Army, he said.

Warning kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol should be as regular as inoculation campaigns in flu season, said Col. Daniel Reiser, commander of the Ramstein-based 86th Medical Operations Squadron.

“We should be vaccinating them with knowledge so when they face a risky situation, they know how to make the right decision,” Reiser said.

Family readiness groups offered everything from bowls of chili to homemade donuts. Members of the Wiesbaden-based 4th Air Support Operations Squadron woke at 4 a.m., drove to Kaiserslautern, and began heating pea soup and grilling pork steaks for runners, said 1st Lt. Christopher Browner.

“It’s worth it,” Browner said. “We wanted to support Red Ribbon Week and a drug-free event. Keeping kids and active-duty military drug free is paramount to what we do.”

Several teen organizations also took part, including the Kaiserslautern High School step team. Cadets from the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps posted the colors during the opening ceremony and served as course guides, said Brittany Overton, 15, a Ramstein High School sophomore. In Europe, where drugs and alcohol are easy for teens to obtain, it’s important to have awareness events to remind them of the dangers, she said.

“Everybody who showed up has shown their community and family members that they don’t like drugs in their community,” Brittany said. “It’s huge for younger people because it sets the right example.”