In an endurance event that will surely garner some attention, 20 Air Force Special Operators will conduct a rucksack march from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas all the way to Hurlburt Field, Florida. They’ll cover a distance of an astounding 830 miles. And they’re conducting this to honor their brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror since 2001.
The 20-man group will consist of ten two-man teams. They will all start and finish together but after the first five miles, then each team will ruck 12 miles until they finish the event.
Two summers ago, we ran the story in SpecialOperations.com about a group of retired Green Berets who hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, 2200 miles in total to raise money for the Green Beret Foundation. We documented at the time former 7th SFG operator Wil Melton, who rucked over 579 miles on the trail, most of it alone, a fantastic feat of rucking endurance. And all for our brothers in arms.
In a feat of extreme endurance, 20 operators from throughout the Air Force Special Operation Command (AFSOC) Special Tactics community will ruck an astounding 830 miles to honor their 20 Special Tactics brothers who have made the ultimate sacrifice since the War on Terror began in September 2001. The airmen will march from the Medina Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to Hurlburt Field, Florida.
Extreme physical toughness and stamina make up the core of all special operations forces (SOF). They provide the base upon which every other specialized capability is built.
The inspiration for the undertaking came after Staff Sergeant Dylan J. Elchin, a combat controller (CCT) assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan in November 2018. Alongside Sergeant Elchin, two Special Forces operators—Captain Andrew Ross and Sergeant First Class Eric Emond from the 3rd Special Forces Group—and an infantryman, Sergeant Jason McClary, were killed by the blast.
The 20 operators will be divided into 10 teams of two Special Tactics airmen. The whole team will depart from the Medina Annex in the early morning hours of February 22 and plan to arrive at Hurlburt Field on the afternoon of March 4. Consequently, they have planned for a joint-aching 75-mile pace for the duration of the 11 days. However, after the first five miles, teams will rotate, each rucking 12 miles.
Such commemorative events are becoming a tradition in the Special Tactics community. This will be the fifth march; the first Special Tactics Memorial March occurred in 2009 in memory of Staff Sergeant Timothy Davis. The men will carry a memorial baton, which will be engraved with the names of fallen Special Tactics Airmen.
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Photo: US Air Force