A group of Nevada veterans are rucksack marching 370 miles from Las Vegas to the northern area of the state to honor those troops who have given their lives in combat since 9/11.

The march will cover about eight days and is expected that 170 veterans will take part.

Leo Garcia is marching with the weight of 7,000 fallen veterans on his back.

“I’m walking in remembrance of our heroes who gave their lives for our country,” said Garcia, an Air Force veteran. “When we raised our hands to serve this country, we did it because we love our country.”

The Ruck March, led by the UNLV Rebel Veterans Organization and the Reno-based Truckee Meadows Community College Veterans Club, began at 6 a.m. Sunday at Sky Pointe Drive in northwest Las Vegas. Marchers headed north along U.S. Highway 95, carrying 7,000 dog tags in honor of fallen military members since 9/11.

The Southern Nevada marchers, who on Sunday dubbed themselves the Rebel Ruckers, expect to have made it to Goldfield on Thursday. There, they will hand off the rucksacks to their northern allies, who will continue marching to Fernley.

“I do this for those who gave their life for me, because even though they don’t know me, they gave their life so that I could be here today,” said LC Garcia, whose son served in the Army.

Rucking For a Cause on Veterans Day

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As the Garcias and other marchers readied themselves for their 10-mile stretch, Alexandria Sawin whizzed around the group, snapping photos.

Sawin, a UNLV student, Air Force veteran and president of the Rebel Veterans, plans to walk the last 12-mile leg of the march Thursday before the northern marchers take over.

“Imagine carrying 40 pounds through a desert with highs in the 90s,” she said Sunday. “Still, it’s nothing compared to the sacrifice that all these service members who were killed in action have endured. It’s the least we could do to honor them.”

Sawin said the march also recognizes the lives that were irrevocably changed during deployment.

“This is a really special event that’s close to my heart,” she said. Today, we honor what they may have lost from serving.”

One of the other issues that the group is trying to publicize is the rate of veterans suicide which remains at nearly 22 per day.

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Photo courtesy Las Vegas Review-Journal