Soldiers with 3rd Brigade, 104th Training Division (LT) conducted a Ruck March for Hunger. The march was approximately three miles and in their rucks, soldiers carried food with them to offload at the end of the march. The food was donated to the Heavenly Food Pantry based out of Essex Junction, Vermont.
Courtesy photo from Sgt. Richard Fullam
JERICHO, Vt. — Members of the 3rd Brigade, 104th Training Division (LT) conducted their annual field training exercises at Camp Ethan Allen, with a change this year. Aside from their routine training, Best Warrior Competition held annually and battalion competitions, they also participated in a Ruck March for Hunger.
The events for the Best Warrior Competition lasted two days May 5-6, and consisted of the Army Physical Fitness Test, M9 and M16 qualification shooting ranges, the Leadership Reaction Couse, a Land Navigation Course, a Best Warrior Competition Board and a six-mile ruck march.
“The Board was mentally tough, and the Ruck was physically tough,” said Sgt. Dasine Asberry, one of the competitors of the Best Warrior Competition representing Alpha Company 1/391st. “All in all, it’s meant to create better Soldiers.”
The second year of battalion competitions included a Leadership Reaction Course which had five stations meant to beget trust and leadership amongst groups, Tug-of-War, an M16 disassembly/reassembly contest, a five team litter carry where each team member had to be carried on the litter a distance of 50 meters, and a wheel barrel crawl, fireman’s carry and a three-legged race.
Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 391st Infantry Regiment took home the Timberwolf Cup at the end of the competition, for the second consecutive year.
The Ruck March for Hunger was approximately three miles and in their rucks, soldiers carried food with them to off load at the end of the march. The food was donated to the Heavenly Food Pantry based out of Essex Junction, Vermont.
“We wanted to make the FTX fun this year, so we decided to go with a change,” said Lt. Col. Johann Gomez. “Also, we want a better tie within the community because as of right now, the National Guard has a better relationship in the area than we do as Reserve Soldiers.”
Soldiers with 3rd Brigade, 104th Training Division (LT) load cans of donated food items into bags after completing a three-mile ruck march. Courtesy photo from Sgt. Richard Fullam
At the end of the ruck march and battalion competitions, Soldiers enjoyed a barbecue supplied by a local catering company as they waited for Henry and Valerie “Val” Gabert to retrieve the food collected at the end of the march.
Once the Gabert’s arrived, their van was loaded with food, and awards were distributed to the contestants of the Best Warrior Competition and to the organizers the events including the coordinators of the march.
“Soldiers donate more time and more money to the local communities compared to their civilian counterparts,” said Gomez.
According to Food Coordinator Val Gabert, approximately 500 to 600 pounds of food was collected overall. The food collected goes to the needy families of Essex Junction and surrounding areas. On the fourth Thursday of the month, the pantry is opened from 2-6 p.m. The pantry, as described by Gabert, acts as a grocery store where people come in and pick out the groceries that they want.
Since the Heavenly Food Pantry is opened only one day out of the month, the food received is shared with the Emergency Food Shelf located in Burlington, Vermont. The Emergency Food Shelf is opened five days a week and serves food from 9a.m.-4p.m., according to the Food Pantry’s website.
Although the pantry is not open every day, the church where they operate from accepts Helping Hand Boxes, which are filled with food that they give out to those in need to get them through the day. Local supermarkets provide these boxes between October and December.
“The people buy them in the grocery store for $10, and then the boxes get put near the courtesy desk and every pantry goes in and picks them up,” said Gabert. “They’re full of cereal, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, jelly, rice and just everything you could want for two or three days. And they’re a big item, last year we collected 900 boxes.”
The Heavenly Food Pantry feeds a number of refugee families who exiled from Nepal, as well as members of the local community, according to Gabert. The number of families was low during the start back in 1998, ranging from 10 plus families. Now the pantry serves approximately 70-80 families a month.
The Gaberts wanted to send a special thank you to Command Sgt. Maj. Tracy J. Finnerty for a monetary contribution he made at the end of the evening as well as the rest of the unit who helped support their cause.
“We’re very thankful for you guys thinking of donating to our pantry. I mean that was wonderful,” said Gabert. “All of the food will go to good use.”