HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. (Nov. 19, 2021) – More than 100 military and civilian members from U.S. Southern Command and Special Operations Command South participated in the famed “Norwegian Foot March,” a grueling physical test that includes carrying a 25-pound ruck sack over an 18.6 mile (30 km) distance.
The event began shortly after 1 a.m. with marchers beginning the trek around the Homestead Air Reserve Base runway. In near pitch-black conditions with 90 percent humidity, safety and hydration were key concerns. Volunteers from SOUTHCOM, SOCSOUTH and the USO were on hand to provide water and rides back to the starting point for anyone who needed to withdraw.
The Norwegian Foot march was first held in 1915 as a test of marching endurance of soldiers in the Norwegian military. Those who completed the 30 km distance within 4 hours, 30 minutes earned the “Marsjmerket,” or the Norwegian Armed Forces Marching Badge. Originally, a strategic goal of the Norwegian foot march was to be able to move large units of troops over a great distance swiftly and in a manner that enabled them to be combat ready, even after the march.
In addition to SOUTHCOM and SOCSOUTH, members participated from the Air Force Reserve, Florida National Guard, Army Recruiting Command and the Coast Guard from as far away as Los Angeles, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the more than 100 participants who attempted the challenge, 56 finished, and 26 qualified for the Norwegian Armed Forces Marching Badge.
While personally rewarding for the participants, the march proved to have an even greater community impact. Event organizers collected 2,500 pounds of non-perishable food to help support service members, veterans and their families in the South Florida area.