Rucking through adversity

  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Logan Turner
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

In the second week of February 2022, I received notification that I would be deploying to Camp Simba, Manda Bay, Kenya, reporting in April 2022. Upon my arrival at Camp Simba, the base was hosting a Norwegian Foot March—an 18.6-mile ruck with a 24lbs ruck sack to be completed in under 4 hours and 30 minutes. After observing others attempt the march, I decided to take on the challenge myself. Over the next 10 weeks, on top of my regular job duties and workout regimen, I began rucking twice per week, one short distance ranging three to six miles and one long distance ranging eight to twelve miles.

This training provided both the time for reflection on myself and my family, and a means to cope with the separation. This was my first deployment. Leaving my wife at home with a toddler and a 3-week-old infant only added to the hardship. Rucking became the conduit to both contemplation and pushing through discomfort.

Unfortunately, just one week before attempting the ruck, I contracted COVID-19. I was quarantined in a single tent for five days. While in quarantine, I was unable to adhere to my training regimen. I used this time of isolation to reflect on my motivation for rucking as well as my family and how they were dealing with my absence. Knowing how hard my wife was working to care of our two babies while I was away and missing out on so many of their milestones gave me the extra motivation I needed to attempt to complete the ruck.

Despite the circumstance, two days post quarantine I decided to attempt the march anyway. I was determined to finish what I started and successfully completed the ruck. Unfortunately, I missed the cut-off time by six minutes. With three months left and nothing else to look forward to besides returning home to my family, the thought of being so close and missing my goal ate away at me. After finishing the rest of my deployment, I returned to the states in late October 2022.

After taking some much-needed time off and spending it with my wife and kids, I felt rejuvenated. I was compelled to complete the challenge I had come so close to achieving. After discussing it with my wife and receiving some much-needed mentorship, I proposed the idea to the 325th Mission Support Group leadership to host the inaugural Tyndall Air Force Base Norwegian Foot March. My proposal was well-received as they immediately began to plan the ruck.

To prepare for the foot march, I established and led a training group comprised of 12 individuals from five different units throughout Team Tyndall. Together, we formed friendships across organizations, collectively racking up 220 hours and covering 1,110 miles in preparation for the march. Through rain, sun, sand and sweat, we strived to improve ourselves and bonded as a team.

I believe that challenging ourselves both physically and mentally can contribute to maintaining a force ready for combat, especially as we transition into more team-based deployment cycle. Building cohesion and camaraderie stateside can only benefit us when we deploy as a team. I am convinced that enduring hardship now can only make us stronger when we face true adversity. I also wouldn’t be able to complete this without the support of my amazing wife, Alanna. She has supported me through every step and has kept pushing me even when I am tired and exhausted, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her love and support.

After months of training on Oct. 5, 2023, I successfully completed and earned the Norwegian Foot March Armed Forces Bronze Skill Badge with a time of 4 hours 22 minutes.

SSgt Logan B. Turner