About the Challenge
US Army MSG Ben Linkous led the way in 2020’s Legacy Challenge, the Virtual Mountain Man Memorial March on Saturday, April 25th in honor of USAF SSGT Dylan Elchin, KIA Afghanistan November 27, 2018.
Ben and some of his teammates from Fort Benning, GA marched 26.2 miles while wearing 35-pound rucksacks. Many others joined Ben “virtually” by marching, running, or walking in their hometowns. Ben faced many challenges along his route due to flooding of certain roadways, but his dedication, passion, and some encouraging FaceTime calls from Dylan’s family members motivated him to push through to completion.
Dylan’s family found a way to participate with Ben virtually. Dylan’s grandfather, Ron Bogolea, his uncle, Dwayne Bogolea, and others from the Legacies Alive Pittsburgh Chapter completed an eight-mile march, ending at Dylan’s memorial stone at Oak Grove Cemetery in Freedom, PA. Ron carried the Gold Star flag and Dwayne carried the Red Legion flag from Dylan’s team in the 26th Special Tactics Squad. At the memorial stone, Ron and Dwayne paid tribute to Dylan with prayer and shared stories of Dylan with those who marched along with them. Dylan’s mother, Dawna, and his brothers Aaron, Ryan and Zach joined in through FaceTime.
We are thankful for those who made contributions, offered prayers and sent encouraging messages to Dylan’s family. A special thank you to all those who CRUSHED IT along with Ben by marching, running or walking to honor Dylan and all of our nation’s Gold Star families.
All sponsors and donors were entered into a raffle for a chance to win a Pittsburg Steelers Salute to Service NFL jersey autographed by Alejandro Villanueva, the rucksack worn by Ben Linkous on his 26.2 mile march, and numerous Legacies Alive apparel items. The winners of the raffle items were:
Alejandro Villanueva autographed jersey – Gordy Bonner
Ben’s rucksack honoring Dylan Elchin – Carroll Hopkins
Legacies Alive gift packs – Craig Kozminski, Priscilla Gober, James Rolfing, Carol Berberich, Marty Beichner
“Last year, I was stationed near Pittsburgh. The casualty assistance team asked to use our vans to transport the family of SGT Jason McClary to the airport,” Linkous said. “I volunteered to drive. I did the Mountain Man Memorial March last year in his honor. SSGT Elchin was also killed in the same attack and he is also from the Pittsburgh area. That’s pretty much how I got involved with it all.”
Linkous is stationed at Fort Benning but maintains a home in Pulaski County, VA. As he was preparing for the challenge he said, “I try to get out and run with my ruck for an hour every week and do boot runs to keep my feet ready. I have concentrated the last month to build up to marathon strength. Last year was great, I finished in about eight hours. I couldn’t walk without limping for the rest of the day, but the goal was to finish. It was a great event and a wonderful way to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
MSG Linkous has worked as a mechanic, medic, practical nurse, senior drill instructor, and career counselor. He has been deployed to Iraq as a Military Transition team member to train, support and mentor the Iraqi Army in combat operations. During that deployment he was awarded the Bronze Star. He earned his Practical Nurse Certificate from New River Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance and a Master of Science in Accounting from Liberty University. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University.
The tradition of service has continued in the Linkous family. His oldest son, Logan Linkous, is currently stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. His son Cody is now a deputy with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department. He is married to Alyson Jones Linkous. They also have one daughter, Anna, who is 11 years old. The couple also enjoy three grandchildren, Caden (3), Beckham (2) and Lilly (5).