By Spc. Hannah Frenchick, 20th Public Affairs DetachmentAugust 11, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. " One phrase Manchu Soldiers, past and present, recognize is “keep up the fire.” This saying dates back to the Boxer Rebellion when American troops marched 85 miles across China from Taku Bar to Tientsin.
On July 13, 1900, under the command of Col. Emerson H. Liscum, troops began an assault on the city of Tientsin. After being wounded during the battle, Liscum continued to lead his Soldiers until he was hit again, his final words to his Soldiers was “Keep up the fire men.” This motto has passed on from generation to generation of Manchu Soldiers.
The Manchus of 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, honored their forefathers by conducting the Manchu Mile road march at Joint Base Lewis-McChord,Wash., Aug. 9-10.
This 25 mile ruck was a first for infantryman Sgt. Christian Duran, 3rd Squad Leader, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 4-9 Inf., 4-2 SBCT.
“Besides honoring a commitment to the Manchu Battalion, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” said Duran. “I remember looking on YouTube and seeing videos regarding the Manchu Mile and seeing the looks on some of those faces, it’s a look of accomplishment and that’s something that I want to give myself.”
The tradition not only honors those who fought in the Boxer Rebellion in the 1900’s, but the Manchus who fought in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.
“Looking back at the history, there have been a lot of dedicated and motivated individuals throughout our past and even in the future, with the brand new privates coming in, who are motivated,” said Duran. “I’m a Manchu, this is who I am and I’m going to keep up the fire.”
The road march gives present Soldiers a taste of what the Manchus during the Boxer Rebellion went through. It also gives them a chance to pay respect to those who paved the way.
“It gives us a little bit of a taste as far as how much pain that these guys went through,” said 1st Sgt. Eugene Kuban, B Company, 4-9 Inf. “Those guys walked 85 miles, and we walked 25.
We let our Soldiers know how much pain those guys had and how many lives were lost with the Manchu Mile.”
Preparing for this event was no easy task for the Manchus.
“I know during the week, it’s part of these platoons’ PT [physical training] program, they road march at least once a week,” said Kuban, who has done three Manchu Miles. “A couple weeks ago we did a company 18 miler to prepare ourselves for the 25 miler.”
For Duran, being mentally prepared was essential for him and his Soldiers to complete the Manchu Mile.
“I told myself every day, ‘I’m going to do this and I’m not going to quit’,” said Duran. “I tell my guys we are a squad and we are going to finish as a squad.”
The Bravo Company Manchus returned to the 4-9 Battalion after the 25-mile course even closer and tight-knit than when they left.
“I think it brought us all close, especially a lot of the new Soldiers that we just recently got,” said Duran. “A lot of them have that chip on their shoulder, they have a lot to prove and I mean them just doing this today says a lot about their character. It warms my heart knowing that I can be out here with a good group of guys and they are just so motivated, so dedicated and they just want to keep continuing to do the best they can.”
As Bravo Company 4-9 Inf. marches through the finish line of the Manchu Mile, Soldiers faces go from a look of sheer exhaustion to a look of accomplishment as they are handed their prestigious Manchu belt buckle. A sigh of relief is heard throughout the ranks when they are dismissed.
Manchu through and through, keep up the fire.