WHEELING - Sgt. Maj. Lee D. Bonar Jr., who last week was assigned as sergeant major of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group for the Pacific, will be the featured speaker Nov. 9 at the fourth-annual Veterans Day 10K Run/Walk in Wheeling.
Bonar, a Wheeling native and 1978 graduate of Wheeling Park High School, will speak at the post-race luncheon. He has spent the past 28 years as a Marine, enlisting in January 1985.
His military career has taken him from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the 3rd Light Armored Vehicle Battalion in California, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other points. Bonar deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion in January 2003.
He continued to be promoted and in 2010 was posted as the command sergeant major of the U.S. Forces Afghanistan South/Southwest.
His latest posting makes him the command sergeant major throughout the entire Pacific region, with his base of operations at Okinawa, Japan.
Bonar is the recipient of the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor and Combat Action Ribbons, Presidential Unit Citation and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.
He is married with two children. His mother, Bonnie Bonar, resides in Wheeling.
Race committee member John Nanny, who serves as commandant of the Marine Corps League of West Virginia, said Bonar's newest assignment is quite an achievement.
"This is just great for West Virginia that Sgt. Major Bonar from Wheeling is assigned to lead the entire Pacific," Nanny said. "It's a big deal."
The Veterans Day 10K Run/Walk is set to start at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 9, at Bridge Street Middle School in the Elm Grove section of Wheeling. In addition to runners and walkers, event organizer Hugh Stobbs is hoping to see more bystanders along the race route to cheer on participants.
Race committee members said several hundred runners, walkers and some paralyzed veterans in wheelchairs will take part in the race, which travels along National Road to the finish line at 14th and Main streets in the downtown area. An awards banquet will be held at 11:30 a.m. after the race, inside WesBanco Arena.
Race proceeds will be donated to Paralyzed Veterans of America.
To date, the race has generated $45,300 for the organization.
Registration will take place at Bridge Street from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 8, and from 7 a.m. until the start of the race at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 9.
Stobbs said putting together the veterans race would not be possible without the help of its major sponsors: Progressive Bank, the Ohio County Commission, Valley Hospice and the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
Military personnel and veterans do not have to pay an entry fee for the race.
They will receive red, white and blue race numbers to distinguish them from the other participants. Military personnel also will receive free admission to the banquet and a T-shirt.