ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland – More than 100 Soldiers and civilians participated in the Norwegian Foot March on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, June 3, to commemorate the 78th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The marchers started at midnight and marched for 18.6 miles on the U.S. Army installation in northeastern Maryland.
To earn the Norwegian Foot March qualification badge, marchers had to complete the march between 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., depending on their age group, while carrying 25 pounds of dry weight in a backpack.
Then they had to work a full day following the all-night march.
Also known as the Marsjmerket, the foot march began in Norway in 1915 to familiarize Norwegian troops with the tough physical demands of serving in the infantry.
The event was hosted by the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation.
Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the Active Duty U.S. Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) specialist, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five WMD Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.
Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations around the world.
Capt. Edwin M. Medina from the 20th CBRNE Command’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Team 2 coordinated the march.
He said the event was held to honor the World War II veterans who turned the tide of the war in Europe by storming the beach in Normandy 78 years ago on June 6.
“My way honor them is either that I attend or participate in cemetery ceremonies or I do some type of unit training that involves NATO partners and helps build ‘esprit de corps’ and camaraderie among my teammates,” said Medina. “As I had previous experience with NATO partners in Norway, I learned about the Norwegian Foot March.
“I did my research and U.S. Soldiers are allowed to participate and earn the prestigious badge,” said Medina, a 10-year Army veteran from San Juan, Puerto Rico, who has served in Afghanistan, Qatar, Poland, Belgium and Norway. “To me, this opportunity fosters better team readiness and understanding of NATO forces and our joint mission.”
Medina said another Norwegian Foot March will be held on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in late October or early November this year.
“What makes the march special is that is intended to move forces fast for long distances,” said Medina. “For participants to complete the march means they are in excellent physical condition and they took time to train for it.”