PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Nov. 1, 2022) — More than 200 members of the 229th Military Intelligence Battalion and other local units successfully completed the demanding 18.6-mile Norwegian Foot March at Fort Ord National Monument on Oct. 28.
Most of the participants were service members studying foreign languages at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, and the battalion held the event in conjunction with the school’s Resiliency Day. At the start, Lt. Col. Christopher Gin and Command Sgt. Maj. Lourdes Barragan, the 229th MI Bn.’s command team, emphasized their confidence in the service members.
“You can do it,” said Gin, who previously earned the Norwegian Foot March pin. “You’ve already pushed through however much language training you’ve pushed through. This is just a physical obstacle.”
Likewise, Barragan told service members she had full faith in their ability to finish.
“You’ve done the legwork to prepare for this. Now it’s the mental game,” Barragan said. “At some point you’re probably going to be like, ‘Why did I decide to do this?’ and you’ll say, ‘It’s my battle buddies who are right here with me.’”
The Norwegian military first held the march in 1915 as a test of marching endurance for soldiers, and participants must complete the timed march while carrying a 24-pound ruck. For the Oct. 28 event, service members carried a 25-pound ruck to ensure everyone would make the standard. Also, service members had to pass 6-mile and 12-mile qualification marches at the Army standard to participate. Those who successfully completed the challenge will receive a certificate and pin at an upcoming awards ceremony.
Drill Sgt. Dalton Hogle, assigned to the 229th MI Bn. and the event’s noncommissioned officer in charge, said the march was a good way to build morale and esprit de corps. Service members proved him right by providing encouragement, helping each other throughout the event and celebrating their accomplishments at the end.
Preliminary results showed that Pfc. Sam Ferrone of the 229th MI Bn. had the fastest time with a time of 3 hours, 3 minutes. Ferrone said he likes challenges and competing, and the march was a great way to build camaraderie with a battalion-level event.
Ferrone said he prepared by squatting weight, running, and working out with the Combat Ready Intelligence Team, which did a lot of rucking. His company also held physical training events to help Soldiers prepare.
Spc. Jude Hedman of the 229th MI Bn. also performed well with a time of 3 hours, 20 minutes. The march helped language students by getting them out of the classroom for the day to focus on a physical challenge, he said.
“Our main focus is learning our languages, which is sufficiently challenging in and of itself, so something like this is good to challenge us physically, get us out of the classroom and remind us that we are Soldiers,” Hedman said. “It’s good to be well-rounded and not just focusing on one thing.”
First Lt. Evan Kent, executive officer for Company B, 229th MI Bn., and officer in charge of the event, said events such as the march help distract students so they can return to the classroom with a better mindset.
“They have a very demanding academic program, and they need to have a break from that,” Kent said. “Getting them exercise is never a bad thing and it helps them maintain Army standards as well as their own fitness and health.”
While most of the participants were members of the 229th MI Bn., some National Guard, Air Force and Navy service members participated as well.
Seaman Andrew Lloyd, assigned to the Information Warfare Training Command Monterey, was one of four Sailors from the unit who participated.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Lloyd after the finish. “I just want to thank the Army for letting us come out here. The guys who came out, I think thought it was a good time. It was a good challenge, and we hope to have some more events like this in the future.”
Hogle said battalion officials hope to make the march an annual event. “At the end of the day, it worked out pretty well,” he said.