NIJMEGEN, Netherlands -- For one Army medic, the 103rd edition of the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen became secondary as he spent countless hours helping and rendering first aid to fellow comrades, foreign military service members, event participants, and even those covering the large event.
Spc. Robert Williamson, a medic assigned to the U.S. Army Stuttgart Clinic, signed up to compete in the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen that began July 16, 2019 and concluded July 19, 2019. Nijmegen, or Vierdaagse in Dutch, is the largest marching event in the world that occurred for four consecutive days. Even though Williamson's role in the event was a marcher, he quickly became more valuable in his role as a medic.
Always prepared for anything and everything that could happen, Williamson carried approximately eight to 10 pounds of medical supplies in his ruck sack, in addition to the required 22 pounds for military marchers. Having that additional weight with him would prove to be beneficial.
Williamson quickly became the "go-to" medic during the event. As marchers began suffering foot injuries such as foot blisters, foot hotspots or nerve compression foot-injuries, Williamson treated each person who needed medical attention.
As word of mouth spread, marchers requested Williamson to take care of their medical needs. He obliged them.
"Let's see those feet," Williamson would say as he checked on marchers during each marching break allowed during the event.
For Williamson, dedication to duty did, however, come at a price.
Williamson would end up sacrificing the majority of his own down time as he cared for fellow marchers. On average, if he was fortunate, he would go to bed at 10 p.m., considering wakeup call was at 2:30 a.m.
His instincts as a soldier and as a medic kicked into high gear when Williamson helped an injured bicyclist who suffered a nasty fall.
The bicyclist, who was actually a photographer taking pictures of the marchers, tried crossing the road quickly as to not interfere with the marchers. However, the photographer became entangled on a speed bump and fell face first on the pavement.
Williamson ran 20 feet through oncoming marchers to assist the photographer. Blood poured from the cuts on the man's face. He used his skills and knowledge as a medic to stop the bleeding and to provide first aid to the photographer. Once again, Williamson put duty first ahead of the competition.
Dedication to duty and his commitment in helping others was in full display at the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen. Williamson not only completed the event, he showed others what U.S. Army medics are capable of.