9/11 Ruck March from a medic's perspective

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eric Reyes
  • 4th Medical Operations Squadron
After hearing the 4th Fighter Wing defenders were taking part in the "9/11 Ruck March to Remember" and receiving the opportunity to be the medic that accompanied the Defenders, I felt honored and an overwhelming sense of purpose and pride. The ruck march was 148 miles over four days. The Defenders trudged onward through dehydration, blistered feet, sleep deprivation, fatigue and natural disasters. Even throughout all this, these Airmen never complained about anything--the true epitome of service before self. Each of these defenders had their own reasons for taking part in this rigorous event. Whatever their reasons for participating, they all had the same goal: To pay their respects to the men and women who lost their lives on Sept.11, 2001. If one of the Airmen faltered, their fellow Airmen were nearby to push each other further along so they could all finish together.

As the medic, I was amazed at the will and drive each of these individuals had, despite my going through packs of moleskin and liquid skin to treat for blisters on their feet. The 'never quit' attitude displayed was both admirable and courageous. Even though I treated many of them during this march, what I will hold near to my heart forever are the people we met along the way. We encountered veterans who ran from their homes to thank us for our service and even marched with us a bit. Widows who still wear flag lapels in honor of their loved ones. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers all made a point to tell us thank you, and to say how proud they are of the military. Through the blisters on their feet, the sleep deprivation, the fatigue, the hunger, it was in those little moments with regular everyday citizens that made this march worthwhile. To see the smiles on their faces and the clapping, waves and cheers made this march a memory I will hold in my heart for my entire lifetime. Lastly, I want to thank the 4th Security Forces Squadron for their unwavering positivity, their never-ending drive and even more so, the opportunity they gave me to do something unforgettable.