By Tech. Sgt. Chad M. Reemtsma
1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron
We started with a sense of pride in the fact that there were only four of us doing what other bases were using four or five times the amount of members we had to accomplish the ruck march. We finished deeply humbled by the supporters’ sincere appreciation of the statement we were taking part in.
Tech. Sgt. Dance volunteered his personally owned vehicle as our transportation due to it having the most practical amount of space for our needs.
We departed July 28, 2011, at around 4:30 a.m. We met Team Columbus at noon at State Police Troop M, east of Brookhaven, Miss. Senior Airman Allen Buning and I took the first leg. We developed a 30 minute ruck / 1.5 hour down time schedule that worked out very well.
At roughly 6 p.m. Staff Sgt. McQuiggin and I brought our team into Monticello, Miss. We were greeted by the town with an escort and supporters on the street led by retired Master Sgt. Tim Lea of VFW Post #4889. The post let us stay the night at the Monticello Baptist Church and the Ladies Auxiliary cooked us dinner and let us use the showers.
At 5:30 a.m. we set out From Monticello, Miss., headed east toward Collins, Miss., and beyond. Around 2 p.m. Tech. Sgt. Dance brought us into Collins and it seemed like the whole town was on Main Street. Fire trucks blocked the side roads as we were led in by the Collins Police Department and the rear was brought up by Covington County who had been with us since Prentiss, Miss. The Collins city mayor was on main street and greeted us with city pins and handshakes. By 6 p.m. July 29 we made it 44 miles. We passed Collins, so we backtracked and headed into town to meet the residents of the Collins VA home. We also met James Sanford and his fellow supporters from the Veterans Outreach organization.
Heading out again at 5:30 in the morning we set out from our stopping point east of Collins toward Laurel, Miss. Around 10:30 a.m. we arrived in Laurel and received escort from the Laurel Police Department and fire dept. They escorted us to Laurel’s Veterans Memorial Museum where all members of the community were represented, from veterans to young people wanting to join the military as well as community leaders. We pressed on and made it several miles out of town before we quit for the night and headed back to Laurel for dinner, showers and lodging. The showers and lodging were provided by the Laurel Police Department, at their police training center located next to the Veterans Memorial Museum. We were treated to dinner by Laurel’s Fraternal Order of Police and the police chief.
We set out from east of Laurel at 5:30 a.m. and headed for our final destination in Bolinger/Silas, Ala. We met that deadline around 5:30 p.m. and headed back to the Waynesboro Fire Dept for the night. Waynesboro had some folks come to meet us and set us up with showers, a place to stay and a great barbecue dinner.
We slept in Aug. 1 and rendezvoused with the Tyndall Air Force Base team at around 10:30 a.m. and organized a change over ceremony and then hit the road and headed home.
Photo: (from left ro right) Staff Sgt. Michael McQuiggin, Senior Airman Allen Buning, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Dance and Tech. Sgt. Chad Reemtsma line up with their squadron’s guidon before heading out for their leg of the ruck march. The previous photo was removed due to some uniform items not being within regulations.