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Marines, ROKs take a hike

5 Mar 2008 | Cpl. GP Ingersoll

The gunnies and the lieutenants knew.

 But the ROK Marines and U.S. Marines had no idea they were going to step off on a three-mile hike at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, Republic of Korea, March 3.

 Until about 15 minutes before they stepped, Marines of the U.S. 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and the ROK 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, thought they were catching a ride back to camp.

 "In a combat environment, things change," said Sgt. Brad W. Landers, 25, El Dorado, Ark. "You always need to be prepared to move at a moment's notice."

 Landers said an impromptu hike can help prepare the Marines for anything. The hike also taught a valuable lesson.

 "If all else fails, they can get from point A to point B with their feet," said Landers, Team Leader, 1st LAR. "You shouldn't always have to rely on Motor (Transport)."

 Moving from point A to point B is putting it simply, considering the average infantrymen has 40-plus pounds worth of gear to carry.

 "It shows you how far you can push yourself," said Seaman Peter T. Wells, a hospital corpsman with 1st LAR. "Not only does it test your physical capabilities, it brings a unit closer."

 The pace was quick, because the distance was short, and it wasn't long before both ROK and U.S. Marines were falling back. That's when the motivation could be heard.

 "(Another Marine) and I started jogging, to try and motivate them, so we could all finish the hike together," said Wells.

 Senior enlisted from both sides were calling to their Marines, trying to keep their spirits up, trying to make them ignore their aching feet. In the end, it was pain that broke the language barrier.

 "Bringing the ROK and Marines together, I'd say ... it shows that we can share the pains. Usually when people are in pain together, or suffer hardship together, they come together to overcome that hardship," said Wells.

 The ROK gunnery sergeants stopped to speak with Landers and the Marines when they reached the ROK camp. There they thanked the Marines and said a few words about the hump.

 "They said it was a little fast, but then they thanked us for it," said Landers. "It was interesting for us and them to come together and work together. It was nice to show another country how we do things. It shows cohesion between our two countries."

 Here Marines are building bridges and breaking down barriers, all while they travel between point A and point B.