The Story of Run for the Fallen

In the summer of 2008, a small group of civilians ran 4,000 miles across America. They called themselves Run for the Fallen, and their mission was to run one mile for every service member killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. To Them That’s Gone is the documentary of this inspirational and historic event.

On December 20, 2005, 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary, of Dallas, PA, was killed in action, in the town of Ad Duluiyah, Iraq. Michael was 24 years old; he was due to return home to his family and fiancée just ten days later. In response to this devastating loss, Mike’s best friend and college roommate, Jon Bellona, founded Run for the Fallen. Jon put together a team comprised of Mikey’s fiancée, sister, and other friends. They did not run for or against the war, and refused any political affiliation.

The Run began on Flag Day in Fort Irwin, CA, and ended in Arlington National Cemetery, VA, 72 days later. The team marked each mile with an American flag and personalized postcard in honor of every fallen service member. Along the way, the runners met many others who had lost their own Mikey, and who came to participate in this moving memorial.

The title of the documentary derives from a Cleary family toast, which became a common refrain during Run for the Fallen:

“To Them that’s here; to Them that’s gone; to Them we’ll see again…”

Michael Cleary’s mile, Cambridge, KS.