Rucking for Raiders was founded by Staff Sgt. Daniel Campbell a Marine Raider and Auburn student. He served with The Raider 7 who lost their lives in a helicopter crash during a training accident in March 2015. He wanted a way to honor them and raise money for the families, of the victims including two fiancés and seven children. We with SSGT Campbell and SSGT Seth Vangorder Monday night at the Auburn Draft House for some chow, stories, and a beer.
The Raider 7 (Marine Special Operations Team 823) members being honored are Staff Sgt. Kerry M. Kemp, Capt. Stanford H. Shaw III, Master Sgt. Thomas A. Saunders, Staff Sgt. Andrew C. Seif, Staff Sgt. Liam A. Flynn, Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol and Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock. Rest well warriors.
“I realized just how fortunate I was to be heading home to spend time with my wife and three children. See I returned from Afghanistan with these men just months before that tragic day. That could have been me. That could have been any one of our fellow Marines. I would hope that if it were me, someone like SSgt Nathan Harris and the survivors of MSOT 8231 would be there for my family. I have been tremendously inspired by these men and the support that they have shown to the families of their fallen brothers, even through their own suffering. This is why we will ruck. This is why we will endure over 200 miles of pain. We will humanize that tragic loss of true patriots and we will support the families left behind! Always faithful, always forward.”
May 9, 2017 at 1200 in 95+ degree weather the Raider Ruck kicked off on a four day non stop 201.5 mile hump from Auburn University to Navarre Beach Florida. A group made up of 29 Marines, Sailors, Midshipmen, from the Auburn University Navy ROTC, a canine, his handler, veterans, and civilians. The group split into three teams will each Ruck 7.5 miles carrying seven memorial stones with their names engraved on them. Nick and I rucked three of the sections with them saying our goodbyes at Tuskegee.
We stopped by SSGT Campbell’s home and watched him pack the memorial stones in his deployment tees, check all the supplies, with help from his daughter. Nick also captured the moment his wife texted and let him know they are expecting twins.
We loaded up and headed to the Auburn University start point in front of the Naval ROTC W.F. Nichols Center. Family, friends, and media were on hand to send everyone off with all three teams participating in the first 3 miles of the 7.5 mile leg.
Teams One and Two took a short break at the 3 mile mark and Team One Rucked on.
I had a few minutes to chat with some of the participants.
Tell me who you are and why you are here today?
I am SSGT Seth Vangorder, I am the TL for TEAM 3 we are staged here with TEAM 2. TEAM one has pressed on and we will meet them at the next checkpoint.
How many legs are there?
We are doing 7.5 mile legs at a 2.5 mile per hour pace at a minimum with three hours on and six off.
Who are these guys?
The majority of these gentleman are Midshipmen from the Auburn University Naval ROTC and a majority of those are Marine options who will commission in the next 1-3 years. A handful of seniors who just commissioned as Lieutenant’s and Ensign’s. A few prior Marines, a prior MARSOC guy that came out to do this with us.
What is your role here SSGT?
I am in a commissioning program. Still being active duty we are really there to share our experience and mould Midshipmen into what officers should look like later on. Something they would not normally have in an college environment.
What is your name and where are you from?
Sara, I am from Navarre Beach Florida.
What brought you out here today? That is cool that you are going home on this Ruck.
Living in Navarre I remember when the helicopter went down two years ago. I thought what a great opportunity and when will I get a chance to do something like this again to honor the Marines and their families. I thought why wouldn’t I do this.
Do you know anyone else here at the event?
I know a couple of the Marines that are MIDS right now. There are a few new guys that I do not know.
Tell me how much weight you are Rucking today?
I do not know how much it weighs. I have books, clothes, shoes, water, and some food. I have never Rucked before I am happy to do this.
You are one of two of the bad ass girls out here. What is your name and why are you out here today?
McKenzie and my brother asked me to come and do this. I wanted to support him, the Marines, and the families. I drove over 3 hours to get here and I love to hike.
What are you Rucking today?
My GoPro, headlamp, clothes, phone, bananas, sleeping bag, about 30 pounds.
Nick and I were stoked to be able to put some miles in with such a great group of people for a great cause. Having the community showing support by yelling, waving, and honking horns, was awesome. At one of the breaks a gentleman stopped to tell us some jokes and that he had donated to the cause. People are the best part of America and I am honored that GORUCK America gets to tell these stories.
Semper Fidelis Teufel Hunden’s rest well.
If you would like information to donate to Rucking For Raiders next year please click here.