|The Squadron's Patch|
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463
Just before we headed out, our leader asked who knew where Blue Hen Falls was. I was the only one who raised my hand. I have run literally hundreds of miles over this very section of trail. Several 50Ks, a 100-miler, and countless training runs. It's a gorgeous part of the national park. By my hand raise, I was named TL or team leader. It was my job to lead the team to Blue Hen Falls, make decisions as need be and make the time. Right at 0800, we headed out and I knew soon that we'd be slow on the time as we entered the Buckeye Trail because little did I know, we could take the road up to Blue Hen. For me, I'd never traveled via road and only via the Buckeye Trail. This section is challenging if only walking or running but with weighted rucks on all of our backs, a 105lb sandbag, a 48lb sandbag, a 30lb-ish slush pipe...it was a lot more difficult. Up roller coaster hill we went, down the Piano Keys (88 wooden steps), then up again to the road via a very steep, technical trail. It was evident, soon, that this day was going to test many of us. At the top of the 2nd climb, we dropped the weights and I made the decision to pull the ruck off one member of the team to give him a break. There was NO QUIT in him but he needed the break to continue. We used one of the 2x4s we had and suspended his ruck with the 48lb sandbag and we continued on. As team lead, it was my job to keep everyone together, Old Glory out in front, and ensure that people are rotated in/out of carrying the heavy weight.
All videos of these PT sessions can be viewed by scrolling down on the Cleveland Area Rucking Crew Facebook page.) Once we finished at Blue Hen, we headed straight up, quite literally, the Buckeye Trail. Before leaving, though, I was "fired" as team lead, said one thing that went well and one thing that didn't during my short tenure as leader and another person was chosen to take the lead.
Once we arrived at Snowville, the plan was NOT to do PT but have a training session. Those two 2x4s were about to get some purpose along with the silver tarp that was brought along. Using only those three items, we built a stretcher and like many GORUCK official events, we had a "casualty." For the next 3+ miles along the road, we not only would have to carry the team weights, we would have a person to carry on the stretcher. (gulp!!!)
As we passed on by Columbia and the Boston Mills Ski Resort came into view, the good folks at the Peninsula Police Department stopped in front of us, lights flashing. We gently put down our "casualty", grounded our weights and waited as our fearless cadre, Bryan, spoke to them. Turns out, they were receiving calls! From "there are people carrying a dead person along the road" to "people had their hands in the air (sungods)" to some other calls of concern, they deemed it necessary to "pull us over" and find out what the heck was going on. Seriously, if you were driving along a road, saw Old Glory, then someone being carried on a stretcher, you'd probably be concerned, too! HAHA! Anyway, we were very close to finishing and the police asked if we'd stop the stretcher part of our ruck and just finish...ya know, to minimize public concern and more 911 calls into dispatch. So we continued and finished up the ruck at Boston Store at 1:15pm. We captured a photo of the group, said our goodbyes, and headed on out.
|That's me in the red..second from right.|
Before I end, I want to share with you the photos that the Marine Corps shared on their Facebook page in honor of their fallen brothers. May God protect their families and may our country never forget their service and sacrifice. Semper Fi!
|Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardeners, Pennsylvania|
|Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Houston, Texas|
|Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Delano, Minnesota|
|Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas|
|Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri|
|Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina|
|Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts|
|Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama|
|Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida|
|Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Stayton, Oregon|
|Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama|
|"Rest in Peace, Marines."|