FORT CARSON, Colo. - Overcoming painful foot blisters and a burdensome rucksack, Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, completed a Manchu Mile road march at Fort Carson, Colorado, Dec. 11.The Manchu Mile commemorates the 85-mile forced march undertaken by 9th Infantry Regiment Soldiers during the Chinese "Boxer Rebellion" in 1900. The 25-mile road march emphasizes brotherhood, cohesion and unit identity."It's not meant to be a competition," said Cpt. Kevin Bernhardt, commander, Company A, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "It's about team-building and developing spiritual strength."Sgt. Steven Stewart, infantryman, Company C, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., said the unit road marched weekly to prepare for the event working in increasing distance increments.
"I expect it to be a very long day," said Stewart, a native of Pittsburgh. "Hopefully it won't be too grueling and as long as everything goes smoothly we'll all make it back."
Soldiers from 9th Regimental organizations across the Army conduct a semi-annual Manchu Mile to instill pride in regimental heritage, build esprit de corps and develop physical endurance.
"It's a brutal event," said Capt. Nicholas Dieter, assistant operations, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "As much as it's physical, there's a lot of mental toughness that this event brings out."
Soldiers wore a 35-pound rucksack and marched on a designated route for more than nine hours until they finally ended back at the battalion's headquarters.
"The weight isn't too bad, but you get a few blisters on your feet and then you feel them pop. I probably have some bloody toes," said Dieter. "You just keep walking; no choice but to reach the finish line."
Soldiers who completed the march for the first time received a well-earned Manchu belt buckle, before sitting in the assembly area for a much needed rest.