Marines hit the pavement for comrades, country

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By Paul Christian

Last Monday Douglas Woodcock, a first lieutenant in the Marines, was looking for a different way to help celebrate Memorial Day.

"Lots of people look at Memorial Day as simply a three-day weekend with barbecue, beer, family and friends,’’ he said, "and believe me, there’s nothing wrong with that.

"But I needed more.’’


He decided to run Sunday’s Med-City half marathon, "in honor of past, present and future Marines,’’ he said.

But he wasn’t alone.

On Friday, he recruited another pair of Marines — staff Sgt. Elvin Finnicum and Sgt. Joshua Yearout, along with Mathias Kautto, who will be a senior at Rochester Mayo High School next year but has already committed to a life as a Marine.

The foursome signed up for the half-marathon Friday night.

None of them were in training for a race of this length; in fact, it was the longest any of them had gone outside of basic training.

During the race, they traded off carrying a Marines Corps Recruiting Substation Rochester flag.

"For us, that flag means the same as if we had carried the United States flag,’’ said Yearout. "It’s one and the same.’’

All of them were touched by the spectators who lined the course.


"The support we heard along the way was amazing,’’ said Woodcock. "The people of Rochester really showed us something today. We never heard one negative word; everyone was supportive.’’

All three were running in honor or memory of a fellow Marine.

"Everyone of us has a story to tell,’’ said Woodcock.

The three active Marines are currently working as recruiters, with Finnicum and Yearout in the Rochester office. Woodcock, whose wife, Jessica, is a surgeon at Mayo Clinic, commutes to St. Paul, where he’s responsible for a good portion of the Upper Midwest.

All three have served in Iraq, Yearout for seven months in 2005-2006, Finnicum for six months when the war started in 2003 and Woodcock twice, in 1999 and then again in 2006 and 2007.

Woodcock was seriously injured but didn’t want to discuss it.

"This race was physical therapy for me,’’ he said, "but Memorial Day isn’t about me. It’s about all Marines, and everyone who has given his or her life for our country.

"The greatest country in the world.’’

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