Marine carries the memories of fallen brothers and sister during marathon

As a child, Vincent Carrano lost his sister to leukemia; as a Marine he lost five of his brothers-in-arms to combat. Now he will carry their memories when he runs his first marathon.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited to correct the number of people in Vincent Carrano’s platoon who died.

WASHINGTON — When Vincent Carrano of Philadelphia starts to run his first-ever marathon, he’ll be carrying the memories of several brothers, and one sister, with him.

This former Marine served in Afghanistan, where many in his unit and his platoon gave their lives.

He’s running for them.

But as a young child Carrano also saw his older sister put up the fight of her life against leukemia. She passed away when she was just nine years old.

He’s also running for her.

The Marine Corps Marathon will bring together the two things Carrano has devoted his life to. It’s why he’s running the race this month, and it’s why he can’t wait to do it.

“Being back around Marines is something I truly miss from my time in service,” Carrano said. “We have such a strong connection, brotherhood, that we cherish a lot and it’s just going to be great to see the Marines everywhere, walking everywhere, cheering, screaming on the sidelines. It’s really going to pump me up. I’m really excited for the whole experience of everything.”

Carrano served in the Marines from 2007 to 2011, in the infantry, and he was in Marjah, Afghanistan, for seven months during that time.

It wasn’t a peaceful seven months.

“In our company… we had seven guys who were killed in action over there, five specifically from my platoon,” Carrano said. “It was a really hard seven months. It’s special to me that I’m keeping them close to my heart through this marathon.

“This is for them. Their pain that they went through, and the sacrifice they gave, is the sacrifice that I’m giving now in training for this, and I’m going to run every step, every breath, every mile I run out there is going to be for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country.”

But it’s not just all his brothers in combat that’s inspiring Carrano to run.

“My story to why I’m running dates back all the way to 1994,” Carrano said. “When my sister Lauren was diagnosed with leukemia. This really took my family by surprise. Just like any family you really don’t ever see it coming.”

For two years, Carrano watched as his big sister, who was all of seven years old at the time, took on the battle with inspiring grace.

“Throughout that time my sister Lauren was happy and positive and always trying to make YOU smile, even through her hard treatments,” Carrano said. “Unfortunately on Feb. 21, 1996, just a few short weeks after her ninth birthday, my sister passed away.”

Vinny Carrano was just seven, but watching his sister fight to the end is an inspiration that drives still drives him today.

“This absolutely sparked a fire in my family and in myself,” Carrano said. “To want that to never happen to another family, another child. Of course it does, and we want to do everything we could to stop that and slow it down, do anything we could to help someone else.”

Carrano and his family spent the subsequent years not just attending charitable events, but visiting and providing comfort to families that were enduring the same thing they had.

Today, Carrano works for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is also the group he’s running to raise money for.

“I honestly, I feel like it’s going to be a very, very emotional day,” Carrano said.

“Between the hype of Marines being everywhere, family and friends being down there, just me thinking about who I’m running this for … knowing that my sister and brothers are going to be there in spirit is going to be something special. I’m going to be super amped up, ready to go, ready to crush this marathon. It’s going to be emotional; it’s going to be hard. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.