For the past three years I have taken it upon myself to organize joint events between my Company (and assorted others, since for some reason I can never get enough people from our limited personnel resources together at one time) and the German Bundeswehr. Usually it is fun days of guns, glory, and sometimes simulated assaults on Vietnam-looking forests.
Today, however, it was a road march.
There is what is called a German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, or GAFPB. I have no urge, nor a need, for one, but officers can wear it and ammunition for shooting expeditions is expensive. I therefore decided to take the time to try and help organize one for some of my company. The primary event in the GAFPB is a road march. Participants strap on a 25 pound or so rucksack and head out for various distances along German roads. The maximum is 30 kilometers for a men’s gold award.
I am not competing, as I prefer my German marksmanship award, so I said I would ruck with the people in the rear and provide a ground safety element. That meant start out with the slowest, who usually only ruck 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) and then catch up with and finish with the fastest, who usually ruck 30 kilometers (about 18 miles).
I decided at the last minute to wear trusty boots that have never given me blisters before. The furthest I have gone in them, which did not occur to me at the time, is 10 kilometers. They were not so trusty today. Thank goodness for safety pins and alcohol pads and not being too squeamish to spill my own fluids. But enough about that, particularly since not all are as un-squeamish (not really a word) as I.
The boots were the least of my problems. Oh, I went out with the people that do shorter marches and prodded one particularly demoralized Soldier who had been cajoled into the whole affair by his Special-Forces-Candidate-and-Supervising-Coporal to complete the minimum distance. But I traded bags with him at one point and discovered that he had a series of weights in the pack, one of which had slipped and jabbed you in the base of the spine every seven steps. I counted: seven every time. I did fix it for him by the time he reached his turn-around point at 10 kilometers, but have a bruise the size of Madagascar (and roughly the same shape, if sideways) on my lower back by now.
They slowed me down a bit, so I had to catch up to the other Soldiers who were now several kilometers ahead. I met the trail end of the party about 4 kilometers later and turned to walk back with them.
I was at kilometer 18 when I realized that my foot was not in its socket, probably from the three times I had rolled it over the course of the march. The boots I wore, as I then recalled from the last time I had marched in them, are not as strong in the ankle as my new ones.
This is when common sense set in and when a Bundeswehr truck rolled by I hopped in for a lift forwards a bit. He schlepped me about 6 kilometers until we came upon my warrant officer, who is not quite used to physical training these days and was trying to figure out how to avoid throwing up, or at least how to avoid getting caught throwing up and put on a truck for dehydration. I hopped back out and opted to ruck the last 4 kilometers with him, common sense left behind once again as is my way.
I rolled my ankle again, which had the benefit of popping my foot back where it belonged, though my surprised and happy comment about such was met with my warrant officer asking me not to talk anymore as I was hurting his brain and that he now had confirmed I was, in fact, an idiot. He then almost threw up, so I wandered ahead to wait for him at the top of that hill. I made it, pestering him and humming Journey tunes, until about half a kilometer from the finish line when another Bundeswehr truck passed, which he stopped and asked them to take me again. They did.
My feet are now elevated, I took medication for my head and shoulders and legs and toes, and iced my bruised back. Everything is back in order.
That return to order includes my final dumb move of the day, which was to agree to do this all again in about three weeks.
I figure next time, I will wear my other boots and be just fine. My warrant figures that maybe next time I will realize the error of my ways.
How little he knows me…