South Sinai, Egypt - At 10:00 P.M. on a warm night in southern Sinai, over 130 Soldiers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the United States stepped off into the dark to begin a 28-mile foot march along the shores of the Red Sea. While the camouflage patterns on their uniforms and the nations they represent may be different, their reasons for dedicating themselves to this challenge are strikingly similar - remember the Fallen and recognize those who are no longer with us.
The first march began in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, in 2012. Soldiers from the state’s 28th Infantry Division brought the tradition to the Sinai peninsula in 2021 while supporting the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) peacekeeping mission in Egypt. This year, as word of the march spread across the multinational camp, 1st Lt. Brianna Stetts, the Medical Officer for 1-109th Infantry, realized the event would be larger than she first expected.
“It means a lot that other people are coming out to support the cause,” Stetts said. “Many contingents are sending photos of their Fallen service members, and it’s pretty emotional seeing that many people who mean so much to the other contingents.”
As Soldiers marched through the night, following the steep path that rises from the shore, they passed numerous photos of Fallen Soldiers from across the contingents. Despite the demand to keep moving forward, many Soldiers paused to read the names and look at their faces. Some Soldiers rendered a salute for each photo they passed.
“The multinational aspect of this event is pretty remarkable,” remarked Lt. Col. William Ault, Commander of the 1-109th Infantry of the Pennsylvania National Guard. “I see a lot of pictures around here. I see a lot of people being remembered from across the contingents, which is good because, ultimately, it’s about committing to memory those we have served with who gave the ultimate sacrifice. This march is our way of telling them we aren’t going to forget. This is a benchmark, a milestone. We get a chance to share their pictures, stories, and faces with so many other people in a multinational environment like this.”
Those words and the importance of this march resonated with Spc. Ryan Sheidy, the first-place finisher in the light category, as he prepared to step off.
“I was thinking of taking it a little bit lighter and walking with friends of mine to observe this remembrance,” Sheidy shared following the march. “Then I thought I might as well go as hard as possible for those that no longer can. They gave their lives to maintain our level of freedom and our safety and gave that ultimate sacrifice. That’s what kept me going as I went around.”
As the sun rose and the final Soldier completed the march, a group of Soldiers on the other side of the world were getting ready to hold their remembrance in the town of Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
While the Fallen may no longer be with us, they will never be forgotten.