TOWER BARRACKS, Germany – As a partnership event between the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the city of Freihung, Germany, 89 participants took part in a competitive ruck march April 1, 2023, in Freihung.
Contestants of the event included U.S. active-duty Soldiers, U.S. reservists and German reservists, all of whom came from the 18th CSSB; from the 367 Support Maintenance Company, a rotational US reserve unit supporting the 18th CSSB; from the Explosive Ordinance Division; and from German Bundeswehr reserve associations of the area.
“During this event participants have to carry bags containing 12 kilograms within a two-hour time frame,” said Gerhard Lindthaler, retired Bundeswehr sergeant major and one of the main organizers of the event. “They can choose to march distances of 6 kilometers, 9 kilometers or 12 kilometers.”
While the event was hosted by the city of Freihung and the German reserve association Reservisten Kameradschaft Freihung, Bundeswehr reservists from all over the area came to join.
“I am here today for the camaraderie, to know where I am physically, for the challenge and of course for fun,” said Werner Fellner, Bundeswehr reservist from Mantel.
Special guests to this event were from the 367th Support Maintenance Company. The reserve unit is from Mississippi and is staying at Tower Barracks for a nine-month rotation. They have only been here for a month, but when they got the invitation to the partnership event they did not hesitate.
“We are supporting the 18th CSSB in any maintenance aspect and recovery operations,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brock McCormick from the 367th SMC. “And today we are here for support too.”
The 367th SMC participated with about 25 runners. Other contestants came from the 18th CSSB and the EOD. While the 18th CSSB is partnered with the city of Freihung, the EOD is partnered to the German reserve association Reservisten Kameradschaft Freihung.
“This is something new,” said Sgt. Michael Fuentes from the 16 Sustainment Brigade, 18 CSSB. “It is pretty cool to do a ruck march with the Germans. It’s a new experience while I am out here in Germany."
“I think it’s always a competition, but it is definitely about doing the ruck march together with our partners from the Freihung reservists’ association,” said Lt. Steven Waskom, 702nd EOD, who competed in the 12-km march. “I like doing partnership events. It’s important to do events with allies, and it’s fun to come out. And normally they have beer and barbecues at the end.
One special guest was the Freihung mayor Uwe Koenig. Koenig served in the Bundeswehr from 1991 to 1992 in Amberg and, as an active part of the RK Freihung, participated in the ruck march as well.
“I am glad that so many people participate here today,” said Koenig. “This is just a great sign that we have a strong partnership now and hopefully in the future as well.”
The event was closed off with German Leberkaes sandwiches and beer.
Freihung is not the only city that has a partnership. Most of the units within USAG Bavaria have partnerships with the local communities, German Bundeswehr units and reserves and veterans associations.