Hundreds Ruck for Veterans in Nearly Naked Ruck March
March held as fundraiser for Veterans with PTSD.
DULUTH, Minn.- On Saturday hundreds got out their walking shoes, pulled on their rucks, and took off their pants for the 23rd Veteran 4th Annual Nearly Naked Ruck March.
Community members, active duty military and veterans rucked 10 laps around Enger Tower in nothing but hats, gloves, boots, and long underwear to support veterans.
“It’s cold, and motivating. But we try to keep the tradition alive of marines leading from the front,” said Kyle Horton, former Military Policeman with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Him and two of his other veteran friends power down the road, United States and Marine Corps flags streaming brilliantly behind them.
Their boots march on, crunching the gravel with determination.
“It’s all mental, pain is temporary,” said Josh Hogan, Field Radio Operator with the Marines.
On top of the outlandish costumes and long underwear are military rucks, some big some small.
“Our rucks represent the weight of the marines that come back from combat, and just all the stressors from the military and just to show that we can carry it too,” said Horton.
The support makes a profound difference for those coming back.
“It’s heartwarming to see that so many people take this serious and so many people care, y’know,” Hogan said. “The way the world gets, there’s still good people out there.”
Many veterans don’t return home unscathed.
But those struggles aren’t nearly as big as their motivation.
“I’m still here, I have friends that aren’t.”
Josh Hawkins marches with a prosthetic leg.
He’s largely able to participate because of the 23 V Recon Transition Program.
It’s his first ruck march.
“When I first got out, I didn’t really feel like many people cared at all, it was just amongst veterans,” he said. “But seeing this many people, come out and support something that I believe in is pretty cool to see.”
For Hawkins, enjoying life is more than just a reward, it’s a way to honor the fallen.
“I get a tomorrow, and my buddies that didn’t come home don’t.”
“So I better make damn sure to live my life so that their tomorrow, they’re not getting a tomorrow, is worth it.”
According to organizers, since 9/11 over 6,000 military members have died in service.
But over over 130,000 in that time committed suicide.
The march funds programs to help lower that number.