Story and photos by Spc. Samantha B. Koss
The 127th Military Police Company, 759th MP Battalion, Family Readiness Group kicked off “Walk to Afghanistan” with an event at Pershing Field Saturday.
Families and a few rear detachment Soldiers plan to walk 7,389 miles, the distance from Fort Carson to Kandahar, Afghanistan, by the time the 127th MP unit returns from Afghanistan next June.
Spouses, Soldiers, children and dogs walked their first mile around the field together Saturday.
“We want to build morale and get through the deployment one step at a time, literally,” said Jen Waterhouse, 127th MP FRG co-leader.
Walkers received a pedometer to track their steps. Swimming, running, biking and aerobics also can count toward their miles, Waterhouse said. Fifteen minutes of aerobics counts as one mile.
“We are all about Soldiers and Families. Everything we do focuses on those two things,” said 759th MP Bn. Commander Lt. Col. Christopher Burns.
He noted there are many young Soldiers in the company.
“This is a first deployment for many Family members and we want to make sure they understand that they have a support chain,” he said.
Participants will be broken down into teams of five, Waterhouse said. “We really hope each team will do 7,389 miles, but the overall goal is to have the whole unit do the total distance.”
With teams of five, each participant will have to walk four miles a day in order for each team to collectively walk the distance.
“It will take a lot of dedication, but I believe we can do it,” said 1st Lt. Juan C. Hernandez, 127th MP Rear Detachment commander.
The objective is to increase morale, get motivated and bring the 127th MP Family closer together, Waterhouse said.
“It’s nice to be part of something while the unit is deployed,” said Nadya Odlum, spouse of a deployed 127th
MP Soldier. “It gets our minds off the deployment and keeps us occupied.”
The rear detachment Soldiers created a banner for the event that participants ripped through as they took their first steps toward Afghanistan, symbolizing the beginning of their journey, Hernandez said.
“It’s more than just exercising, it’s a way to support our Soldiers without being (in Afghanistan),” Odlum said.