FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Five members of U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command accepted the grueling challenge of the Norwegian Foot March on Oct. 1, with one Soldier earning top honors for the Fort Detrick event.
Capt. Raymond Miller, who works in the Logistics Support Division for the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, an AMLC direct reporting unit, finished the 18.6-mile ruck march in just over 3 hours and 36 minutes, topping the field of 101 participants.
“It’s a tough and gritty event; an 18.6-mile ruck march is no joke,” Miller said.
The Norwegian Foot March is a military endurance test that requires participants to march a 30-kilometer route, carrying an 11-kilogram ruck sack that simulates the weight of weapons and gear. Dating back to 1915, the march was first used to ensure new recruits joining the Norwegian Army could move quickly over great distances while carrying their ruck sack or weaponry.
The current-day test, as adapted by the U.S. military in coordination with the Norwegian embassy, mirrors these requirements at the standard equivalents of 18.6 miles and a 25-pound rucksack. Grouped by age and gender, each participant has a standard completion time requirement to pass the test.
Along with Miller, other AMLC participants included Chief Warrant Officer 5 Lee Nelson, Capts. Andrew Whittenbarger and Martin Grider, and Staff Sgt. Parror Jones.
The total field included 90 military and 11 civilian participants, with representatives from the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Space Force, which hosted the event.
For Nelson, AMLC’s command chief warrant officer and senior medical maintainer, it was a Family affair. He completed the march along with his wife, retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Deborah Nelson, and sister, Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Jacobson.
“It was my first time attempting the Norwegian ruck march … and I figured it would be fun to do it as a group,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately, I did not make the time due to a foot injury, but my wife and sister both met their times to earn their badge.
“Two out of three isn’t too bad,” he laughed.
Jacobson, a Reserve career counselor out of Virginia, said she trained off and on for six to eight weeks in the lead-up to the event, usually four to six miles at a time.
“We started together, and I was determined to finish what we had started and glad we could complete the Norwegian ruck together as an Army Family,” Jacobson said. “Like Lee and Debbie, I had lots of blisters on the feet and toes and sore muscles, but it was a great experience.”
Whittenbarger, USAMMA detachment commander, also completed the march in the required time, coming in at 3 hours and 56 minutes. Grider, an operations officer for USAMMA, and Jones, an NCO for AMLC’s Materiel Readiness Directorate, completed the total mileage but fell just short on time.
Taking part in his second Norwegian ruck march, Miller smashed his time requirement by more than an hour. His secret to success? Lots of water and carbs -- in the form of pizza -- the night before.
“Doing hard things is good for us as Soldiers … but the real benefit of doing something like this is when we do it as part of a small team,” Miller said. “It helps build unit cohesion, so I am appreciative that I was able to take on the NFM with my teammates at USAMMA and AMLC.”