USAMMC-E group joins 45,000 participants at 104th Nijmegen marching event

By Eric CramerAugust 11, 2022

Nijmegen march
Capt. Kyle Simonson, Sgt. Anthony Perez and Spc. Jack Wicklander work their way through the crowds at the beginning of the second day of the “de 4 Daagse” an international four-day marching event in Nijmegen, Netherlands. (Photo Credit: Eric Cramer) VIEW ORIGINAL

NIJMEGEN, Netherlands -- Ten Soldiers and civilians from the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe traveled July 24 to Netherlands’ oldest city to participate in the “de 4 Daagse,” an international four-day marching event held there for over a century.

Participating in the event were Capt. Kyle Simonson, USAMMC-E Headquarters Company commander; Staff Sgts. Beverly Blazi and Jose Joachin; Sgt. Anthony Perez; Cpl. Christina Christino; Spcs. Jack Wicklander and Juan Diaz-Garcia; Christina Wilcox, a U.S. Army retired veteran; and Dan R. Hollis, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The event consists of four days of marching in the Nijmegen area, with different distances available in lengths of 30 to 50 kilometers, which equates to roughly 18 to 31 miles, per day. The event website cites more than 45,000 participants from 70 nations. This is the 104th time Nijmegen has played host to what locals call “de Marche.”

Last year, it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the first day’s events were cancelled because of an extreme heat wave that rolled through Europe.

Simonson, who organized the USAMMC-E group, said the event was a challenge and opportunity to interact with other militaries and cultures.

“It’s not a competition at all,” Simonson said. “It’s all about the multinational participants, the militaries and people across the world who participate.

“I’m especially glad that we had Ms. Wilcox and Mr. Hollis participating,” he added. “Having two Army civilians with us makes me very proud. It’s not an event that is just for the military.”

Simonson said the USAMMC-E members didn’t enter as a unit, each volunteering and entering the event as a “civilian” although affiliated with the Department of Defense contingent that attended. The members attended on their own time and used their own funds.

“I found out about it last year and wanted to do it, but they cancelled the event because of COVID,” Simonson said. “This year I found out who was interested and had meetings and did training on Tuesdays and Thursdays and some weekends to prepare for the event.

“We prepared by walking in shorter distances, getting people used to just walking -- that can be hard for Soldiers who are used to running,” he said.

Hollis, an information technology employee, and Wilcox, a civilian personnel lead in the human resources division, said they wanted to participate as a way to test themselves.

“It’s a challenge,” Hollis said. “The last time I was on a field march was 24 years ago, so this is a chance for me to do it again and just enjoy myself.”

Added Wilcox, “It’s a chance just to ‘prove it.’ I’ll go home with a tan and a medal, or whatever they give.”