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Old 26 January 2010, 01:08
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B 2/75 B 2/75 is offline
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THE RUCK MARCH

Quote:
Originally Posted by B 2/75
It has been since November 2006 that I last posted this short tale, so it is fitting that it again is put up on the boards.

The author is Unknown, but was certainly one who had felt the bite of the ruck while managing to make his own peace with it...
THE ROAD MARCH
Airborne Ranger Operations Order

Weapon, ruck sack, combat load 100 lbs., field uniform. A team made up of men with individual missions but one objective, to execute the mission and survive until extraction. Each individual functioning as one. One Ranger gets emotional, others suffer. One Ranger gets arrogant, others die.

Move out to UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, rig for jump, load, transport to DZ, jump. Gather at assembly point, check equipment, and move out.

Leadership in front of split column, both sides of the road. Night, black, luminescent Ranger "eyes" bobble on the back of the Patrol Cap in front of you. Shut up. Follow. Obey. No nice here. No home and cookies and TV, just pain and suffering. No warm and fuzzy anywhere near this place. Just sacrifice. Just harsh, cold, hard reality stripped of any embroidery or romance. Just pain and sweat ahead all night.

Lt. leads with R.T.O., men follow, Platoon Sergeant takes up the rear security position 50 feet behind the main body. We are aware of his presence back there. 50 yards ahead, 2 man front security team. Their death will buy us reaction time. 50 yards behind, 2 man rear security team. Suffice it to say, this is the Ranger battalion, there aren't any stragglers anticipated. Anyone close to being unfit for this unit would have been DX'd back in the early qualification process.

Platoon moves out, easy, accordion effect until the pace is set. The pace is a ball buster. Initially, it's hard to believe the Lt. actually thinks he can maintain it. Can't think about that now, move out, let's go. Adjust the 100 lbs. of shit on my back, squirm, settle in, lean forward, hump! Ruck sack straps digging in. Pain, sweat, I can't believe how heavy this fucking ruck sack is. "Can I make it?" creeps into my mind. Fuck that thought. That thought IS the enemy. Last time that phrase enters my grape. Keep that bitch out at bayonet point. That will kill you, thinking like that. Fight the pain. Fight through to the other side of it. Laugh at it. Endure. Lean forward, make friends with the pain. Talk to it. Tell it you're gonna kick it's ass.

Then it happens. Always the new guys. The cherries. The bitchin', complaining, questioning begins. Like stupid little kids in the back seat of the Station Wagon they say, "How much further?" "My straps are loose." "Are we gonna break soon?" These whining bastards. All I want to do is cap them off with a .45 slug to the fucking temple but ammo is more valuable to you than they are at this point. These newbies may have bodies that were strong enough to get this far in the Ranger's, but their minds have yet to mature. No problem. That's what Corporals are for. The bitching ends as abruptly as it began with a calm death threat from the Corporal that anyone who breaks silence again shall be fucked over big time. Instant silence. Corporals are more feared than long term pain. A Corporal is a fledgling Non Commissioned Officer; if he fucks up so what… he's just busted back to his previous rank where he can resume hanging with his buddies. He is the one to be feared; he really has nothing to lose.

The Lt. doesn't notice the repartee' behind him. He's thinking of the pace count, the azimuth, contingencies, Operations Order, enemy situation, artillery support, mission, men, and his own pain last. Silence again. Only the sounds of the entrenching tool clacking hypnotically on someone's rucksack frame, the shifting of cloth on nylon web gear, and the panting, coughing, cursing of men in the middle of an effort to perform the mission and survive in order to make it back to clean sheets, hot chow, ice cold brew and a babe or two. Time to reflect later. Time to heal, always later.

Second phase begins. As I strain forward, I see a black figure coming nearer in reverse. He's in the center of the tank trail, and he's slowin' down. The unbelievable happens. This clown is bowing out. He's quitting. A word that is even difficult to enunciate as a Ranger. The first thought you have is "Hey, Dickhead, get your sorry ass back in formation." The point of no return with a quitter is when he falls behind the Platoon Sergeant. You just ain't allowed to get behind that guy. The only option is to help this bastard. So men begin to whisper, "Shithead, gimmee your weapon, gimmee your base plate, tripod, something." "We'll split it up. You'll make it!" After all, anybody can have a bad day. Besides, part of the Ranger Creed is, "Never will I leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy." But all this dead man walking says is, "I can't make it." "I can't do it!" Well fuck me to tears, that's it for me, we offered and you are too stupid to listen so, "Fuck You!" And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You reject the team and you reject life. A man who quits must be turned from. He sets a precedent of weakness that may drag others on the brink of quitting down with him. Other cherries may forget about making it all the way and quit too. A quitter never existed. He was simply never here to begin with. The Platoon Sergeant acts decisively in order to squelch any further dissension in the ranks. He strips the guy's equipment off of him and literally beats his ass down to the ground, kicking him off the trail. He then calls for volunteers to go back and pick up the equipment. We may have lost the "man" but we still have the supplies. But now the team has to hump more weight. The quitter never thinks about others and the extra weight they will have to carry in his absence, oh no, he only thinks of himself. This is arrogance. The ambulance following the road march picks his bruised and bloody body up and carries him back to the "World" where the Black Chinook picks him up and we never see him again.

After that debilitating episode, you resume the pain. Lean in. Sweat, snot, drooling, blisters. You get mean. Hard. No bitching. No negative or weak thoughts. Just mean. You look forward to the ambush just so you can share pain with others. Inflict pain. Yeah. That will be good. One thing becomes obvious, if you come this far; you'll make it. The worst is the beginning, staying the course is where a man finds his feet. Routine may be boring but if you do it long enough you get there. The mission is a good one. The men you are with are good men. Training is good for detecting quitters so they can be eliminated. In combat you only want tested men with you. There's camaraderie among those left. You can count on these guys and they on you. All types, ghetto rappers, white farm boys, city boys, no matter, Americans. Every one. Tonight we're brothers. Bound together by shared pain and a shared mission. You care about these guys. You'd share your last chow with these guys. Water, ammo, pogey bait, all shared. Nothing spoken. There's a mutual respect because you and they are all faithful to the execution of the mission and each other. They can hang.

Camouflage melts. Muscles explode with searing shots of pain as fresh blood courses through your veins as you rearrange you ruck sack. Breathing hurts. Then as if in a dream we're down. Word passes back that we've reached the ambush site. We move in to occupy our space along the perimeter. For the next hour we clear fields of fire, check commo, set up firing positions, leaders move up and down the line to ensure correct placement and that interlocking fields of fire are established. A terse reminder to wait for the green star cluster before attacking, to sweep the kill zone together so that no one makes a salient and gets shot by his own men. Then after we are set in and ready, we try to stay awake and ready and we reflect on what we've been through. The ambush itself is a piece of cake, killing is easy, the road march is the bitch.

The Road March accomplishes many things:

♦ It allows you to challenge your soul.
♦ It teaches you the importance of teamwork.
♦ It provides a mirror reflecting who you are.
♦ It exposes all good and bad in yourself.
♦ There's no way to hide on a road march.
♦ It strengthens trust in your leaders.
♦ It toughens you mentally.
♦ It beats complaining right out of you.
♦ It orients you to authority.
♦ It makes you think about others.
♦ It matures you.
♦ It makes you more objective.
♦ It provides a frame of reference for suffering.

The Road March is the crucible in which the soul is refined. Pulling a trigger is easy. Humping the load over the distance is where you find out who will be on the ambush site to pull the trigger with you.

In the Battalion, after the mission, you go out to a bar. Drinking, eating, laughing. Talking shit to your Ranger Buddies. Suddenly a cherry who made the hump steps inside the bar. Funny he doesn't look new anymore. Cuts on his face. Bruised. Walks with a limp. But the Mother Fucker made the hump. Before we call this cherry over to proceed with the brain damage, one of the old timers leans in close and whispers, "Man that's one ruck sack humpin' son of a bitch!"

The Road March defines you. Never quit.

Come in ugly if you have to, but come in.

Ranger
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Last edited by Ranger1; 26 January 2010 at 14:00.
  #2  
Old 26 January 2010, 04:05
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Always a classic. I'd love to know who wrote that.
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Old 26 January 2010, 06:56
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That is outstanding, I will copy and paste in a general email to everyone in the office today who do not understand the thought process or mindset of the Regiment. They complain about Rangers on post and how arrogant and abusive they are to outsiders who work inside and outside the compound. For some of those career civilians and new hires (young girls) in the office it will viewed as crass and abusive, great I have just reestablished the pain level in the office!
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Old 26 January 2010, 08:19
RangerAx RangerAx is offline
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Wow....this is really good. Certainly a must read for anyone here.
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Old 26 January 2010, 08:36
Devildoc Devildoc is offline
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I am not a Ranger, and am speaking out of respect. My comparisons are, I am certain, apples and oranges. When I was a corpsman I recall many full-gear forced humps of unknown speed and duration....just very fast, and definitely very far (leaving at dusk, attacking at dawn, returning several hours later). I remember a few minutes of bitching and negative thoughts, then just settling into my happy place in my mind. The only thing I could recall at the end of the hump was my sweat and my breathing.
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Old 26 January 2010, 11:06
Hopeless Civilian Hopeless Civilian is offline
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There are leassons to be learned in that....even for unimportant non-military types like me! Maybe especially for folks like me.
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Old 26 January 2010, 11:59
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Reading that revived a couple of old memories from "the suck". Great story!
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  #8  
Old 26 January 2010, 12:46
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Should be required reading at RASP. With the boys being told that their rucks only weigh 45lbs and this ruckmarch was likley a 20 miler...while their biggest will be 12.

That should weed out a few with a single piece of paper on day zero and save our guys more budget money for ammo and gear.

Last edited by Ranger1; 26 January 2010 at 12:52.
  #9  
Old 26 January 2010, 13:11
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RGR.Montcalm RGR.Montcalm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk View Post
Should be required reading at RASP. With the boys being told that their rucks only weigh 45lbs and this ruckmarch was likley a 20 miler...while their biggest will be 12.

That should weed out a few with a single piece of paper on day zero and save our guys more budget money for ammo and gear.
How about making it a sticky in the forum so that aspiring Rangers can read it when they decide to join? make it mandatory for all that want to come here.

Jesus, I started having flashbacks of walking in from Taylor Creek DZ as an ammo bearer for the 90mm RCLR and thinking, never saying,

"How the fuck does that short little bastard walk so fast?"

Then putting my head down and matching him pace for pace- and felt lucky because it was winter and cold so it didn't suck as bad as the summer surely would...

What a great vacation for my mind and memory...
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Old 26 January 2010, 14:01
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGR.Montcalm View Post
How about making it a sticky....
Good idea Sgt. Major.

Done.
  #11  
Old 26 January 2010, 15:03
Trip_Wire Trip_Wire is offline
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Rangers Lead The Way! — Outstanding post!
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Old 26 January 2010, 15:44
MeatLasagna MeatLasagna is offline
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Out of my lane, but that's an awesome post - thanks for posting this.
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Old 26 January 2010, 15:57
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Road march.... fucking hell. I like that last line, Come in ugly if you have to, but come in.

Good post, although I don't remember the clanking of any e-tools!
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Old 26 January 2010, 16:31
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Originally Posted by MikeC2W View Post
Good post, although I don't remember the clanking of any e-tools!
Yup, we probably went through as much 550 cord as we did ammo. We tied down our helmet straps with a half hitch for fuck sakes. And in a Regimental formation you could have hauled an E-1 from 1st Batt, an E6 from 3rd Batt and a E9 from 2nd Batt front and center...

....and their LBE would have had the exact same tie down knots in the exact same places.

Different world.

Last edited by Ranger1; 26 January 2010 at 16:35.
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Old 26 January 2010, 16:37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk View Post
Yup, we probably went through as much 550 cord as we did ammo. We tied down our helmet straps with a half hitch for fuck sakes. And in a Regimental formation you could have hauled an E-1 from 1st Batt, an E6 from 3rd Batt and a E9 from 2nd Batt front and center...

....and their LBE would have had the exact same tie down knots in the exact same places.

Different world.

So they don't tie stuff down like they used to?
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Old 26 January 2010, 17:54
Ranger1 Ranger1 is offline
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Originally Posted by MikeC2W View Post
So they don't tie stuff down like they used to?
Sure they do, but not like we did. Remember tying Starlights to the 60's? Canteen covers to pistol belts?

They have chest rigs for ammo, Camelbacks for water, and see if you can spot one piece of 550 or 100 MPH tape attaching any high speed stuff to their M4s/SCARs in any modern shots.

Remember attaching mini-maglights under the front handgrip of your M-16 A3 with 100mph tape? Those horrible plastic PVS-7 head harnesses with the little black pads on your forehead and cheekbones (that you still had to tie down, even seperate to the nods because they were 'expensive')? Made your kevlar ride up on your head like a redkneck baseball cap? Or the guys having to make cases out of old duffle bags for the new CSAR saws when we jumped them for fence/building breaches?

Special Ops on an Infantry budget.

They just don't need to these days. Gear and their budget has caught up. And they're not humping through 20 miles of triple canopy jungle in the dark where every branch wants to steal something off of your LBE. My gut says that when they need to agian, they'll look just like we did. And they'll be tying down all the new high speed kit so the monkeys don't grab it.

To give the Regiment credit though, even back in our day things were changing a bit. Hell I came from a Reserve unit and went active, bringing my own H-Harness LBE, a Nam era buttpack and carried one of the first camo Lowe Alpine 'Spec Ops' Rucks (all of that only in the field of course). I was in supply getting my TA-50 right after RIP, spotted the ruck and said 'hey can I have that ruck too?.. they said...'sure'. I knew I was in for world of smoke anyway with AA wings; fuck it. They looked at me like I was from Mars. They let me wear it all, and guys learned from it, but it sure had all the proper Regimental tie downs.

I carried a CAR-15 with a 203 tube attached with (no shit) chicken wire. I spotted it my first day there and they signed it over. The arms room had it logged in as a 'Special Ops M203'. I thought I was so cool. Biggest boom, lightest weapon in the squad. As a Reservist who almost 2 months before was carrying an M16-A1 with triangle foregrips and a split flash supressor, I was in Hog heaven. So Regt was making advances even then.

But things have moved a lot faster now. If a 2010 Ranger would have walked onto the 3rd Batt company street in 1990, we'd have though he was a Jedi...or from another planet. On lots of levels.

Last edited by Ranger1; 26 January 2010 at 18:27.
  #17  
Old 26 January 2010, 18:27
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RGR.Montcalm RGR.Montcalm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk;1256073[B
]Sure they do, but not like we did. Remember tying Starlights to the 60's? Canteen covers to pistol belts?[/B]

They have chest rigs for ammo, Camelbacks for water, and see if you can spot one piece of 550 or 100 MPH tape attaching any high speed stuff to their M4s/SCARs in any modern shots.

Remember attaching mini-maglights under the front handgrip of your M-16 A3 with 100mph tape? Those horrible plastic PVS-7 head harnesses with the little black pads on your forehead and cheekbones (that you still had to tie down, even seperate to the nods because they were 'expensive')? Made your kevlar ride up on your head like a redkneck baseball cap? Or the guys having to make cases out of old duffle bags for the new CSAR saws when we jumped them for fence/building breaches?

Special Ops on an Infantry budget.

They just don't need to these days. Gear and their budget has caught up. And they're not humping through 20 miles of triple canopy jungle in the dark where every branch wants to steal something off of your LBE.

To give the Regiment credit though, even back in our day things were changing a bit. Hell I came from a Reserve unit and went active, bringing my own H-Harness LBE, a Nam era buttpack and carried one of the first camo Lowe Alpine 'Spec Ops' Rucks (all of that only in the field of course). I was in supply getting my TA-50 right after RIP, spotted the ruck and said 'hey can I have that ruck too?.. they said...'sure'. I knew I was in for world of smoke anyway with AA wings; fuck it. They looked at me like I was from Mars. They let me wear it all, but it sure had all the proper Regimental tie downs.

I carried a CAR-15 with a 203 tube attached with (no shit) chicken wire. I spotted it my first day there and they signed it over. The arms room had it logged in as a 'Special Ops M203'. I thought I was so cool. Biggest boom, lightest weapon in the squad. As a Reservist who almost 2 months before was carrying an M16-A1 with triangle foregrips and a split flash supressor, I was in Hog heaven. So Regt was making advances even then.

If a 2010 Ranger would have walked onto the 3rd Batt company street in 1990, we'd have though he was a Jedi...or from another planet. On lots of levels.
A lot of that came from having those shitty metal ALICE clips that held everything on. It could come apart (and usually did) while you were sitting asshole to elbow on a C-130 and if it wasn't tied down, it was gone in the breeze. Many times I had a one quart canteen or two quart canteen hanging by the 4' of 550 cord when I landed on some drop in BFE.

The one thing that the MOLLE system brought was an end to the need for EVERY pouch to be tied down to prevent its loss; its so god damned hard to rig the damned things to begin with, it would take an F-5 tornado to knock a piece off.
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Old 26 January 2010, 18:32
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Originally Posted by RGR.Montcalm View Post
A lot of that came from having those shitty metal ALICE clips that held everything on.
Fucking ALICE clips. If I never see another it will be too soon.

Blackening them with a magic marker for a Regimental inspection. Man o man.
  #19  
Old 26 January 2010, 19:45
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I'd like to know how invented the ruck march. I want to kick that bastards ass from here to dooms day but my knees won't let me.
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Old 26 January 2010, 19:51
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Thai_Ranger Thai_Ranger is offline
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My waist line is still full of ALICE cilps scars from those road marches even 20+ years later. I could never found a way to wear it right with my rucksack. I tried everything, low, high, loose, tight..etc. Still digs! Anyway great post, brings back wonderful memories. I don't know how I did it weighing 120lbs soaking wet and humping a 90. Now I would whine just thinking about it.
 

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