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Guardsmen taking long road march for Vets Day

Ceremony here Tuesday at VFW

POSTED: November 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Master Sgt. Sean Hannes of Hinesville and 12 other soldiers with the 48th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, are going a step — actually 253,440 steps — above and beyond to show their appreciation and remembrance for the country’s veterans, especially Georgia National Guard vets.
Over the course of 48 hours, the soldiers, along with 84 other soldiers from the Guard, will march 48 miles from Canton to Atlanta. And as if the sheer distance of the trek alone isn’t grueling enough, they are upping the ante by marching with full combat gear, weighing in at a taxing 35 pounds.
Hannes said the dedication and effort shown by the soldiers to complete this mission correlates with the respect and honor they feel for the veterans.
Since a marathon road march isn’t something to just jump into the soldiers have been training. Hannes, the Battalion Operations NCO, began training with  assessment tests, sifting through the ranks to find the soldiers with most unshakable endurance.
The test alone, spanning two days, consisted of a 10-mile road march (with gear) on the first morning, a mile and a half run that afternoon and then a second 10-mile march the next morning.
Hannes said the test was challenging, but, after being in the military for more than 19 years and marching all over the world, he’s used to it.
“Marching comes easy to me,” the sergeant said.
Only 12 of the 30 soldiers who tried the feat made it through the test and into training.
“I’m proud of the guys that made it. It was an all-volunteer thing,” Hannes said, adding that most of the training consists of long marches.
“We’ve been training since August. I always tell the guys you can’t duplicate the weight and distance.”
Hannes said the best approach to training for an event like this is to make it a gradual progress through a consistent training program.
“You got to build up to it and condition your body,” Hannes said. “I’m a firm believer that if you can do half the distance, you can do the full distance.”
But more importantly than the physical endurance, Hannes said the significance of the march is that the soldiers are putting a tremendous amount of dedication and effort into supporting and remembering Georgia’s citizen- soldiers of the past.
The march is being led by 48th IBCT Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hurndon and began at 5:30 Saturday morning. The first leg covered 30 miles to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta where the soldiers were to rest for the night. Today, the soldiers will walk the remaining miles and end in Atlanta’s Centennial Park where there will be a Veterans Day Celebration. At the park, the marchers will join an additional 350 Volunteer Brigade Warriors.
Hannes said his wife and two children are very supportive and excited. 
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