MANCHU: Soldiers from all over 2ID honor the heritage of the 9th Inf. Regt. by taking part in the Manchu Mile, a 26.2-mile road march through the Camp Casey enclave April 26-27.

CAMP CASEY, Korea - More than 800 Soldiers from all over the 2nd Infantry Division participated in a strenuous 26.2-mile road march through Camp Casey, Camp Hovey and the surrounding community April 26-27.

The march, known as the Manchu Mile, is a commemoration of the Soldiers of the 9th Infantry Regiment, who made an 85-mile march from Taku Bar for their assault on Tientsin in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Making it through this type of road march is mostly mental. Soldiers know how far they have to march, but trying to figure out how many miles are left can leave many people mentally drained, said Sgt. Robert Lyons, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment. The rest is just putting one foot in front of the other and getting it done physically, Lyons said.

Many Soldiers try to complete the march, but only about 85 percent of the participants actually finish. The march requires so much from the body that a lot of Soldiers need additional motivation, Lyons said.

"The reason I am doing the Manchu Mile is because it is a mental and physical challenge," said Spc. Jesse Gibbon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment.

In preparation for the march, the Soldiers of Co. E walked about six miles three times a week for physical training, Gibbon said.
"I know most of the NCOs have completed it once or twice, but for the other guys, they want to attack it and just get it done," said Pvt. Ervin Trower, combat engineer, Co. E, 2nd Bn., 9th Inf. Regt.

The Soldiers marched well into the night. They only stopped twice to fill their canteens with water, and then they were back on the road.

"It's a personal challenge, showing that I'm physically and mentally tough enough to finish it," Lyons said. "I'm trying to motivate the younger guys and push them to the point where they don't get hurt but still push themselves to the limit."

The march ended at the 2nd Bn., 9th Inf. Regt. headquarters, where many exhausted participants immediately dropped their gear and rested. Those who completed the entire march received a certificate of completion and the historic Manchu Belt Buckle, Trower said.

"Not a lot of people will be able to say that they completed a 26-mile march. Just the fact that you're doing something that is tradition will make you feel good when you complete it," Trower said.

"If you get the chance you should do it because not a lot of people have done it before. It's a very historical event