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The Raider 7: At rush hour, Pawleys traffic breaks for Marines

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

When three Marines marched through Pawleys Island on Friday afternoon in memory of comrades killed in a training accident, traffic backed up for almost a mile on Highway 17.

Frustrated northbound motorists could make out flashing blue lights on two sheriff’s deputies’ cars as they inched forward during rush hour. The deputies were escorting three Marines through Georgetown County, part of a 770-mile trek from Navarre, Fla., to Camp Lejeune, N.C., being made by seven teams of “ruckers.”

The trio carried a flag from the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion and a raft paddle recovered in the Black Hawk helicopter crash that killed seven Special Operations Command Marines based at Camp Lejeune and four Louisiana National Guardsmen off the coast of Navarre, Fla., a year ago. Teams of Marines traded off every 10 miles or so and marched around the clock in honor of what has become known as the Raider 7.

Among the three walking through Pawleys Island was Destiny Flynn, widow of one of the Marines killed in the crash.

Despite the long wait, some motorists honked their horns in support as they passed the trio. A post on the Coastal Observer’s Facebook page went viral and raced ahead of the Marines. People came to the highway to cheer them on and wave American flags in their honor. By the time the Marines reached Camp Lejeune, more than 102,000 people had seen the Facebook post.

Sybil Harris McLaurin wrote on Facebook, “Once I found out what was going on, I would have sat there for hours in honor of the Marines.”

Charles Ford said that combining the words Pawleys Island and rush hour traffic normally would mean bad news but not in this instance.

“Semper Fi, do or die!” Anne Burgin wrote on Facebook. “Wish we had known about it. We would have been there.”

People picked up the thread and posted the Marines’ progress as they walked. Lisa Hucks was glad to learn why they were marching. “I feel better about it now,” she said. Pat Harraden Lepore said, “Semper Fi. Passed them in Litchfield on my way home. Proud to be a fellow American and Marine wife.” Kim Kuiken reported they were getting into Murrells Inlet around 5:30 p.m. Frances Cahill Raynor posted the Marines passed 50th Ave North in Myrtle Beach at 11:52 p.m. Brenda Copeland Love said, “Marines! Good job!” at 1:30 a.m. Saturday Kimberly Adler posted “Semper Fi,” at 3:30 a.m.

Many others were grateful for the Marines’ service. Avis Havel Hutchinson posted, “Saw them on our way to Georgetown this afternoon. God bless ’em.” Nancy Tyner wrote, “Go with God. Thank all our military personal for your service and sacrifice. We ARE with you.” Kimberly Romero wrote, “Saw them in GA now in Pawleys! Wow! That’s honor and dedication.”

Marines posted proudly. Brandon Fish wrote, “Semper Fi, Brothers and ma’am!” Charles Cooper posted simply, “Ooorah.” Chad Manuel posted, “The world needs to take a close look at how we as veterans, no matter what race, religion, whatever, take care of each other and we continue after leaving the service and we continue till the day we die.”

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