News: Unit cohesion, one step at a time
Story by Sgt. David Edge
Fort Polk, La. – In the early hours of April 25, 2014, Company B, 2nd Battalion 4th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division “Blackhawk” started what promised to be a long and exhausting day, worth the moment of the pain.
The company conducted its annual 25-mile ruck march, an event mandatory for all companies in 2nd Battalion.
“It tests the tactical and mental awareness of the company,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Van Houten, squad leader, 3rd Platoon, Company B, 2nd Battalion. “Completing this 25-mile ruck shows the Soldiers that no matter the distance, we don’t need to rely on vehicles to get somewhere. We know that we can put whatever on our backs, get to the objective, and accomplish our mission.”
The 10th Mountain Division light fighter heritage was an important aspect in completing the ruck march for some Soldiers.
“Soldiers should always strive to be well-rounded infantrymen, no matter where they go. Between lighter fighter, mechanized, and Stryker, you have to be able to go back to the basics and rucking great distances is the basics of the light infantryman,” said Van Houten.
Rucking 25 miles can become monotonous; rest stops are normally used to break up the distance and allow Soldiers to do things that help them keep going. Blackhawk Company used the rest stops to have a little and competition as well.
“We are doing a 25-mile ruck march at an 18-minute mile pace. We are stopping every five miles to do a short event that takes about 15 minutes so that we can change socks if needed, fill up on water, and have a little competition with Soldiers from every platoon,” said 1st Lt. Trevor Smith, platoon leader, Company B, 2nd Battalion. “One stop we disassembled and reassembled weapons, the next stop was a land navigation test, we also did a general military knowledge test.”
The spirits ran high after Blackhawk Company completed the march.
“It was the mental toughness of pushing ourselves for 25 miles,” said Capt. Benjamin Winchester, commander, Company B, 2nd Battalion. “We are all sore from walking that many miles, but we can rally around the fact that we did it together as a company.”