Ruck march to honor America's fallen heroes

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Eighteen members of the 81st Security Forces Squadron will march 148 miles in July's searing heat to honor some of America's fallen heroes.

"Security forces units from around the country are conducting a ruck march to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and also to pay tribute to fellow 'defenders' who have fallen by enemy hands since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom," according to Master Sgt. Daniel Fuentes Sr., Keesler's team leader.

Sergeant Fuentes said personnel from the 4th SFS at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., came up with the idea and extended an invitation for the Keesler team to participate.

The ruck march starts at the Security Forces Center at Lackland AFB, Texas, and proceeds through Shanksville, Pa., before terminating in New York City at "Ground Zero" in time for the 10th anniversary ceremony on Sept. 11.

"The march is about 2,181 miles broken into 15 legs," Sergeant Fuentes explained. "Our team will march 148 miles in four days along U.S. Highway 190, starting at noon on July 20 in Livingston, Texas, and ending at noon July 24 in Alexandria, La."

The Keesler defenders pick up the march from the 4th SFS, Barksdale AFB, La., and hand off to the 14th SFS, Columbus AFB, Miss.

All 18 Keesler team members have been deployed to Southwest Asia at least once since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. They range in rank from airmen first class to a major and chief master sergeant.

Sergeant Fuentes plans to break down the team into small teams, with each team ruck marching about 9 miles in three hours daily, keeping at least a 20-minute-per-mile pace.

"As a whole we must complete at least 18 1/2 miles on July 20 and 24 and complete at least 37 miles a day July 21-23," he pointed out. "Each team member is expected to march a total of about 36 miles," Sergeant Fuentes continued. "Some of the younger guys said they want to do all 148, but we will see how that goes."

Each team member carries a 40-pound ruck with consist of equipment and essentials such as food, extra uniforms, socks and boots.

Team members are conducting ruck marches around the base, increasing the distance as the July 20 start date approaches. The team is raising funds through car washes and donations for transportation costs and accommodations.

For more information or to make a donation, call 376-6606 or 6625.