Over 40 participants are signed up for the fifth annual 47-mile trek to raise funds for USO Delaware which begins at 5:00 p.m. May 23 at the New Castle Air National Guard Base, New Castle, Del., home of the Delaware ANG, and finish approximately 22 hours later at Dover Air Force Base.
Participants will gather shortly after 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, depart the base, turn right on Commons Boulevard to Basin Road, turn right and head south on Rt. 13, turn left on Hamburg Road, right on Rt. 9, right on Rt. 72, and left on Rt. 13 until they reach Dover AFB.
Senior Master Sgt. Jim Yetter of the Delaware Air National Guard will be one of 10 members of the Delaware ANG and two members of the Delaware Army National Guard, and part of over 40 marchers overall who are participating, with the majority of the Airmen from Dover AFB. The good cause raises money for USO Delaware, the local branch of the organization that helps support all service members stateside, and in overseas locations such as air bases and military camps in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Yetter joined three fellow Airmen from his unit in the 2010 47-mile ruck march, stopping just for food and refreshments, finishing mid-day the following day. Sgt. Yetter said of that experience two years ago, "It was long, challenging, painful, stinging, satisfying and surprising." He said, "The surprising part was that we went that far."
He also said it was a beautiful night with perfect weather in 2010; low humidity, a daytime high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and an overnight low of 65 Fahrenheit. He recalled walking over the Saint Georges Bridge, seeing the moon, taking photos, and enjoying the beauty.
The weather forecast for May 23 and 24 is for potentially more heat, greater humidity, and some rain.
His recommendation for participants in 2012 is, "Feet are 'numero uno'," and advised marchers to bring several pairs of good wicking socks. "If you don't take care of your feet, you won't last long," said Sgt. Yetter. "Keep your feet dry, and drink a lot."
Sergeant Yetter said that around 3:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. the march starts to play in your mind. "It is the most challenging time because about then your body is telling you that you forgot something - sleep. There is a battle in your mind. When the sun is up, you get a burst of energy, like a big cup of coffee."
He recalled USO Delaware volunteers driving around all night bringing water and other drinks, and that medical personnel from Dover AFB and state police cruisers would stop to check on the marchers. He said marchers tied glow sticks to their backpacks, making them easy to see by people driving vehicles.
"Participating in the march is a good way to pay tribute to the service men and women who sacrifice so much, as well as to support the USO volunteer staff who work to fulfill the organization's mission," said Senior Airman Eian Andrew, a service central controller with the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Dover AFB, who is the Dover AFB base's point of contact for the ruck march. "The march won't be easy, but it'll be worth it."
Walkers can either bring their own ruck sacks or back packs, or go without them for as many miles as they wish. USO volunteers will periodically check on them, supply water and other necessities. Breaks will be held as needed.
The registration deadline has passed. Proceeds from the $25/person donation will go to USO Delaware.
Tech. Sgt. Benjamin J. Matwey
Public Affairs Specialist
166th Airlift Wing
Delaware Air National Guard
Blackberry mobile 302-593-2126
News media are welcome to cover the start of the march inside the New Castle ANG Base; please call ahead to Public Affairs at 302-593-2126 if interested.
Note: Photos of the First Annual Base 2 Base Ruck March in May 2008 are pinned to the top of the page on Facebook.com/166thAirliftWing.