News: Digging deep: Maintenance Marines endure forced march to test fitness
Story by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Sweat stained their uniforms and dripped from their faces as Marines and sailors with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group trekked along the dusty back roads of Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 29.
More than 500 service members with the battalion hiked 10 miles and carried up to 40 pounds of gear, including flak jackets, Kevlar helmets and rifles.
“We have to maintain basic Marine Corps skills,” said Capt. Patrick W. Bowman, the battalion’s executive officer. “Everything a basic Marine needs to know how to do, we also have to [do proficiently.] It’s unlikely that we’ll have to execute [a forced march] at this point in time, but we have to make sure the Marines are ready.”
The unit prepared for the hike with a month of exercises designed to acclimate its service members to long periods of challenging physical activity. The command also monitored what the Marines and sailors ate and drank for 72 hours before the hike to make sure they were in the best condition possible.
“[The hike] was definitely a good mental experience,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew L. Sirois, a machinist with the unit. “It was something I had to go beyond physically to get through. It’s a lot of strain on the body, but if you keep your head in the right place, it’s something the strong minded will overcome ... no matter how physically exhausted they are.”
The service members, who had been walking for almost four hours, took a break nine miles into the hike for a competition between the battalion’s companies. Two members from each company battled members of rival companies in pugil stick fights.
A pugil stick is a padded weapon, used to represent a rifle and bayonet for training purposes. Fights with the simulated weapons are conducted with additional protective gear including football helmets, hockey gloves, and groin and chest protection. The matches were refereed by Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructors to ensure the safety of the participants.
“It caught me by surprise,” said Sgt. Michael T. Baker, an automotive maintenance technician with the unit, who participated in the fights. “I was tired, but I wanted to put on a show for the Marines. I just had to try my best.”
The award for the winning company was the right to turn its weapons into the armory first, which allowed the Marines and sailors to leave for breakfast first.
“[The hike] was painful for everyone,” said Bowman. “The Marines who participated in the pugil stick fights realized they always have to be ready. By that last stop, they were already physically exhausted, but there’s always a fight after the fight.”