HomeNewsArticle Display

Happy Hooligan to run Fargo Marathon...from Iraq

(Left to right) Staff Sgt. Sonny Hernandez, of the 445th Security Forces Squadron, located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz, of the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard and Kavuma Richard with KBR Service Contracting from Uganda, Africa take a moment to pose for a picture after competing in a 5K race in Iraq.  The three individuals are planning to compete in the Fargo Marathon on May 9th from Iraq.

(Left to right) Staff Sgt. Sonny Hernandez, of the 445th Security Forces Squadron, located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz, of the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard and Kavuma Richard with KBR Service Contracting from Uganda, Africa take a moment to pose for a picture after competing in a 5K race in Iraq. The three individuals are planning to compete in the Fargo Marathon on May 9th from Iraq.

Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz and Senior Airman Sheryl N. Job, both from the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard take a break after running in a 5K race in Iraq.  Master Sgt. Albert C. Humphrey, also from the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, came to the race directly from his work shift still dressed in his gear to show support for his fellow Happy Hooligans participating in the race.

Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz and Senior Airman Sheryl N. Job, both from the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard take a break after running in a 5K race in Iraq. Master Sgt. Albert C. Humphrey, also from the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, came to the race directly from his work shift still dressed in his gear to show support for his fellow Happy Hooligans participating in the race.

Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz competes in a 5K race while deployed in Iraq.  Ruiz has run in six races in three months, placing in the top 10 in each race.  He plans to run the Fargo Marathon from Iraq on May 9th on behalf of the 2009 North Dakota flood victims, volunteers and National Guard members who assisted in the flood fight.

Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz competes in a 5K race while deployed in Iraq. Ruiz has run in six races in three months, placing in the top 10 in each race. He plans to run the Fargo Marathon from Iraq on May 9th on behalf of the 2009 North Dakota flood victims, volunteers and National Guard members who assisted in the flood fight.

Tech. Sgt. Todd P. Seguin and Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz ,  both from the119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard, prepare for a 5K race while serving in Iraq.  Ruiz plans to run the full Fargo Marathon from Iraq on May 9th and Seguin will run the last six miles with Ruiz to ensure he completes his goal of finishing the race on behalf of the 2009 North Dakota flood victims, volunteers and National Guard members who assisted in the flood fight.

Tech. Sgt. Todd P. Seguin and Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz , both from the119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard, prepare for a 5K race while serving in Iraq. Ruiz plans to run the full Fargo Marathon from Iraq on May 9th and Seguin will run the last six miles with Ruiz to ensure he completes his goal of finishing the race on behalf of the 2009 North Dakota flood victims, volunteers and National Guard members who assisted in the flood fight.

Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz and Senior Airman Sheryl N. Job, both from the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard take a break before running in a 5K race in Iraq.  Ruiz is planning to run in the full Fargo Marathon from Iraq on May 9th.

Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz and Senior Airman Sheryl N. Job, both from the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard take a break before running in a 5K race in Iraq. Ruiz is planning to run in the full Fargo Marathon from Iraq on May 9th.

Tuesday -- It started as a promise to a dear friend and pledge to his parents that resulted in something even more spectacular. A Happy Hooligan, currently serving in Iraq found that as he tried to dedicate his efforts to the flood victims in the Red River Valley, the graciousness of the local community and his military family has given him even greater rewards.

Stating that Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz, a Fargo native and member of the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron in the North Dakota Air National Guard, likes to run is an understatement. The avid athlete has taken his love for running to a completely new level since he deployed to Iraq approximately three months ago.

"I was running before, but since I arrived in Iraq I have been training like a mad man for this. I have run 330 miles so far," said Ruiz. "When I'm not working, I'm running or thinking about running and training for future races here."

His hard work is beginning to show. Since arriving in Iraq, Ruiz has run in six 5K races with five top 10 finishes and one top 5 finish.

"I would like to win at least one race while I'm here, but that's just to keep me motivated. My ultimate goal is to run the full Fargo Marathon and dedicate the run to the 2009 flood victims, volunteers and National Guard members who helped with the relief efforts," said Ruiz.

"I was there and helped during the 1997 Floods. It was really hard for me to not be home to help the Air Guard with the flood this year. Dedicating this run to our community for their continued strength and perseverance is the least I can do."

Ruiz ran the half-marathon the previous two years in the Fargo Marathon. This year he planned to run his first full marathon, but when he found out he was deploying to Iraq he had to make some minor adjustments.

Ruiz contacted the Executive Director of the Fargo Marathon, Mark Knutson and made arrangements to participate in the race from Iraq.

"Mr. Knutson made it possible for me to run in this race and I am truly grateful to him for that. It is inspiring to see how generous members in our community are and how they bend over backwards to help you out," said Ruiz.

Race Day

On May 9th when the marathon runners line up in front of the Fargo Dome at 7:55 a.m., Ruiz will be lining up for the same marathon at 4:30 a.m. in a combat zone where the weather and environment will be much different from Fargo. With temperatures in Iraq expected to reach mid-eighties that day, Ruiz will have volunteers on hand as a precaution.

"It has surprised me to see how many Airmen here in Iraq offered to help me in some way when they heard my story," said Ruiz.

There will be two individuals running the full marathon with Ruiz on Saturday. Staff Sgt. Sonny Hernandez, from the 445th SFS based out of Ohio and a contractor named Kavuma Richard from Uganda, Africa.

"These guys are amazingly good people. They offered to run with me when they heard about the floods in North Dakota and wanted to help me make it to the finish line. The interesting thing is that this will be a first full marathon for all of us," said Ruiz.

The runners will be running the race on their own, with the help of volunteers to support them, primarily Fargo-based Happy Hooligans who are also deployed with Ruiz in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Audrey L. Farder, 119th SFS and native of Alvardo, Minn. will follow the runners in a vehicle during part of the race and distribute water with other volunteers from the 119th Wing throughout the run. Tech.Sgt. Todd P. Seguin, 119th SFS and native of Fargo will run the last six miles with Ruiz to motivate him to the finish line.

Ruiz may not have the music and hoards of spectators cheering him on like the runners in Fargo this year, but he will definitely have the motivational support from his Happy Hooligan family and other Airmen serving with him in Iraq.

But that is not his strongest motivation, in addition to running on behalf of the 2009 flood victims in the Red River Valley, he will also run the marathon because he is determined to make due on a promise he made to some important people back home.

"I made a promise to a dear friend and Happy Hooligan member that I would run this race with her. Unfortunately, she won't be able to run that day due to flood duty severely cutting her training for the marathon, but she is still holding me to my promise and I'm not going to let her down," said Ruiz.

Ruiz also pledged to his parents, Pedro and Francisca Ruiz of Halstead, Minn. that he would complete the run. He has strict orders to call mom and dad to let them know he made it as soon as it's over.

"Preparing for this has been an amazing experience. It began as something that I wanted to dedicate to our community and Guard members to hopefully inspire others, but at the end of the day I was the one who was inspired by everyone's generosity and support. I think it will be a special day for me. I can't think of a better way to run my first marathon," said Ruiz.

For more information about this news release, please contact Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs Officer, at 701-451-2194. 

-30-
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.