Arnold Air Society hosts first 5K to commemorate veterans

Scott Mlcoch, junior in civil engineering and Arnold Air Society squadron commander, hosts a small ceremony before a 5k on Saturday morning.

Alex Connor

“AAS” written in chalk with an arrow pointing in some direction marked the sidewalks on campus during the weekend.

The chalking was for the Arnold Air Society, an organization within the Air Force ROTC unit, which hosted a 5K Saturday morning to commemorate this upcoming Veterans Day. 

The O’Neil Squadron — named after ISU alumni brothers Charles and James, who died during their service in World War II — works to commemorate veterans, work on service projects and advocate the support of aerospace power.

Scott Mlcoch, junior in civil engineering and squadron commander for the Arnold Air Society, said the organization aims to “build better cadets and officers” as well as provide service opportunities for its community.

One of the ways it wanted to do this was to start a 5K to honor those who were in the service.

Originally, the 5K was going to take place in September to honor 9/11 victims and the American Red Cross, but after speaking with Jathan Chicoine, who is the veterans services coordinator, Mlcoch said Chicoine gave the group the idea to focus on student veterans at Iowa State.

“All of our proceeds will be going to benefit student veterans on campus,” Mlcoch said. This includes more than 800 student veterans at Iowa State. 

The cost to register for the run was $20 to $25, depending on sign-up date and a $5 discount for students and military members.

This was the first time that the Arnold Air Society has hosted a 5K, but it anticipates making it an annual event.

While most of the planning for the 5K ran smoothly, the society faced some obstacles when gathering permits and meeting university regulations.

Mlcoch credits one of the bigger obstacles the group faced to the fact that it couldn’t accept credit cards. He also said the group hopes to move the run off campus next year.

Planning the route for the run was easy, however, as two of the cadets in the program had experience with planning 5Ks in their hometown.

Brock Helwig, sophomore in management information systems and special programs coordinator for the Arnold Air Society, has been in charge of planning the 5K for the past few months.

Mlcoch put Helwig in charge the day before he went to field training, and when Mlcoch returned, he said Helwig had planned almost half of the 5K.

“Planning a 5k is pretty tough,” Helwig said.

He noted that some of the hardest work is found within coordinating with the police, paramedics and the university to ensure that everything went as planned and was safe for the runners.

With about 79 people registered for the run, the 5K began at 10 a.m. at the Armory, and the route made its way throughout campus. The first two runners to finish the race also got a refund on their registration payment.

A short ceremony was given by Mlcoch, where the national anthem and a moment of silence to commemorate veterans was conducted, along with a presentation of the colors by the AFROTC guard. The ceremony also included a 21-gun salute by the American Legion Post 37 in Ames.

A little miscommunication with the route, however, led to the run being a little under the 3.1 miles that a 5K usually entails.

Harlan Horst, junior in aerospace engineering and AFROTC cadet, participated in the run because he wanted to support his brothers in arms along with the veterans.

“I’ll participate in anything this detachment wants to organize,” Horst said.

After runners crossed the finish line and were greeted with words of congratulations, goodie bags were handed out with water and granola bars to the participants.