Ruck march honors 9/11 responders

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Sixteen years ago our nation was altered by three separate attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001. For many, it instilled in them a heightened sense of patriotism and was the catalyst for a life of service to follow. As we look back to what happened on that fateful day, we remember the countless innocent lives that were lost, and we celebrate the heroes who sacrificed everything to help a nameless face.

As a way to remember the sacrifices made 16 years ago, the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron, which is made up of Emergency Management, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and the Hill AFB Fire Department, hosted the Second Annual September 11th Memorial Ruck March here, Sept. 11, 2017.

Former firefighter and current EOD technician Tech. Sgt. Neal Krysinski oversaw the event. He, along with several members of the squadron, decided on this year’s activities, which entailed a 9.11-mile ruck march with workouts assigned at every mile marker. Each of the nine stations had a physically demanding exercise associated with it, which at the end of the ruck added up to 403 total repetitions. The number 403 is significant to first responders: 9/11 emergency responders who perished in New York City included 343 firefighters, 37 Port Authority Police Officers, and 23 NYC Police Officers.

Each participant showed up at West Side Fire Station #2 near the 75th Air Base Wing headquarters and was given a badge to wear; each badge had the name of a fallen responder on it. Some participants selected names of a person they knew while others wore a stranger’s name, but all came out in support of the fallen.

Paul Erickson, the Hill AFB fire chief, gave a moving speech about the why it’s important to remember the events of 9/11. Air National Guard Chaplain (Capt.) Spencer Cooper, 151st Air Refueling Wing, provided words of inspiration to begin the march.

Each participant rucked along the base’s northern perimeter road from West Side Fire Station #2 to East Side Fire Station #4, near the BORTA training area, and then back. Along the way, participants completed mountain climbers, lunges, sandbag shoulder carries, dummy drags, pushups, sit-ups, jerry can carries, burpees, and pull-ups.

The event was a complete success and participants were given the opportunity to purchase commemorative T-shirts or make donations to a worthy cause. All proceeds went directly to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. More information on this foundation can be found at https://tunnel2towers.org.