Physical fitness is one of the core pillars of effective soldiering and it has been since time immemorial. Whether it was in ancient Greece where the formidable Spartans and Macedonians developed superb strength to withstand the physical rigors of Hoplite combat, or in Early Middle Ages Scandinavia where the Vikings developed an extraordinary muscular endurance by rowing their fearsome Drakkar ships, or in the modern era where war-fighters undergo a strict physical fitness regime to be ready to meet an enemy and destroy him.
Ten Paras from 3 PARA are currently undergoing a gruesome 500-mile ruck carrying 35-pound rucksacks to raise funds for charity and commemorate their ancestors who fought in the Second World War.
“The biggest challenge will be the punishment on the body,” said Major Fox, commanding officer of C Company, Third Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, in a statement to Forces Network. Major Fox will be leading the Paras during their arduous ruck. “We will be on our feet for a long time every day, dealing with back and shoulder rubs from our packs and the sore feet that come with tabbing on hard tarmac.”
The team began from the landing beaches of Normandy, where during the invasion, Paras dropped behind German lines to capture a number of strategic points. They will then march toward Arnhem, one of the locations of the famous WWII Operation Market Garden, which was immortalized in the film, “A Bridge Too Far.” They’ll pass through Bastogne and the Ardennes, the site of the Battle of the Bulge, before ending up back in Normandy and the site of the Merville Battery, which was a series of fortified bunkers the Paras destroyed during an audacious operation on the morning of D-Day.
“I have no doubt there will come a morning when we wake up and the last thing we want to do is put those damned packs on our back, but we will push through. We set ourselves the highest standards and it is for a great cause,” added Major Fox.
The Paras will average a distance of at least 25 miles per day in order to achieve their goal of finishing the event by July 20. Any funds the team raises will go toward the Support our Paras charity.
“Support Our Paras looks after anyone who has served in the Parachute Regiment, or is currently serving. There is a huge breadth of care that they give, everything from helping current soldier and their families, to supporting elderly veterans,” said Major Fox. “Just for example, recently the charity covered airfare and hotel costs for a serving soldier to fly from London to Scotland to visit his mum in hospital after she had a stroke. They have helped me out, too. My son had Down syndrome and the charity donated a special needs buggy to him.”
You can donate at www.justgiving.com/EnduringHeritage.