By Kristen Marquez, Fort Knox MEDDACApril 20, 2012
FORT KNOX, Kentucky (April 20, 2012) -- Soldiers from the Fort Knox Warrior Transition Battalion recently participated in a two-day, approximately 30-mile foot march from Fort Knox to Kosair Children's Hospital in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.
Their goal was simple: deliver stuffed animals, toys and lots of extra smiles to the children in the hospital and show support and encouragement to their families.
The Soldiers, all cadre from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, had been training for almost two months to complete the march. Their uniforms were complete with 40-pound ruck sacks and they had the support of Kentucky State Troopers to follow along and provide safety and security.
"Kosair is such a great organization that does so much for Louisville and for children all over the country," said Capt. Scott Marler, commander of HHC. "It was such a humbling experience to see what these kids are going through, and what all the medical and support staff do to help people, and comfort parents. It's hard as a father to think about what they're going through, but I hope we gave them a happy memory over a difficult time."
The Soldiers' journey began in the drizzle and overcast skies on Saturday. They marched 22 miles along U.S. 31W, the Dixie Highway, to the Pleasure Ridge Fire Station along their route toward Louisville. There, family members waited to greet them along with the firefighters, in order to provide a warm welcome and a meal before they settled in to sleep there for the night.
Sunday, the Soldiers marched the remaining eight miles through Louisville before arriving at the hospital. Supporters along the route honked their car horns and waved. At Kosair, family members were waiting with red wagons full of stuffed animals to be handed out to the children being treated.
"It was a great event," Marler said. "It wouldn't have been possible without all the support we received, from the heroes at Pleasure Ridge Fire District Station 1 that graciously allowed us to bivouac at their station, Trooper Chaffins from the Kentucky State Troopers Post 4 and the Louisville Metro Traffic Division that kept us safe on the road, the Korean Veteran's Association Chapter 1 that donated toys, and of course our families supporting us with dinner, breakfast and encouragement the whole way."
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Cooper was one of the Soldiers that came up with the concept and himself a father of four boys.
"It's grueling to walk that far, but seeing and hearing the support of people driving by, yelling encouragement, waving and saying they're proud of the Army and of us, it kept us going," he said. "And it made me proud to be part of something affecting so many."
The WTB hopes to continue this tradition and will plan another march for sometime possibly in the fall.