When 20 Army National Guard (ARNG) Soldiers geared up to ruck the Boston Marathon on the morning of April 15, 2013, they weren’t expecting to respond to a national emergency. These Soldiers hiked the 26.2-mile marathon course with 40-pound packs on their backs to honor their fallen comrades. They crossed the finish line utterly exhausted, but inspired. When the first bomb went off just 150 feet away from where they were, everything changed.
1LT Stephen Fiola of the Massachusetts ARNG explained the switch turned on—they were no longer there as Soldiers trying to support military families of fallen comrades; instantly they were Soldiers there to do their job. The Soldiers—pushing tiredness and fear from their minds—raced toward the explosions to pull civilians to safety.
As a National Guardsman, your readiness is critical to the nation’s safety. Fiola and his Tough Ruck team members, including 1SGT Bernard Madore and SSGT Mark Welch, were able to respond to orders and save lives because they were mentally and physically fit.
“When I first joined the Guard, there was a stereotype that ARNG Soldiers were a bunch of weekend warriors who didn’t take training seriously. That was nearly 10 years ago, and today I see a completely different perception of the force. Today we are a dynamic range of Soldiers who, in order for us to do our job, HAVE to be ready,” Fiola said.
He said the key is to guard your fitness so you’re ready anytime, anywhere.