CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
For more than 30 years the Royal Danish Army has hosted the Danish Contingent, or Dancon – a 25-kilometer march, wherever its troops are deployed.
The Danish Army continued the tradition by inviting coalition forces from Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, to participate in the gruesome march, May 8.
“Not only is it a tradition, but it’s a social event,” said Maj. Soren Grandrup, the officer in charge, Danish National Support Element. “Usually after we do the march, we gather around at the YMCA or the coffee shop and have something to talk about.”
More than 100 troops from the United Kingdom, Denmark and United States participated in the march.
“It’s part of their tradition, plus it raises money for their troops,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Carr, the independent duty corpsman for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “For me, it’s something to break up the monotony of the daily grind.”
The grueling 25-kilometer course started on Camp Bastion and continued onto Camp Leatherneck. To challenge each contender, the march had three different categories based on the weight of the load participants would carry.
“We were in category two,” Carr explained. “We carried a pack with 40 pounds, which doesn’t sound like much until you’ve been carrying it for four hours.”
The other categories included variations of battle gear, weapons and a pack with 50 pounds.
While it was an individual-effort event, most participants walked or jogged next to a partner.
“It was good to have somebody to talk to, and complain to about your feet, your legs and hips,” joked Carr. “It was nice to have someone to talk to about things other than focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.”
Carr and his partner, Petty Officer 1st Class Natalie Cebular, a corpsman with 8th Communications Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), finished the course in four hours and 30 minutes.
“We weren’t first, and we weren’t last,” said Carr. “We’re satisfied with our time because it’s our first one. There’s another one in June and we plan on competing again.”
Carr and all of the other participants who completed the course within five hours received the Danish Contingent March Medal and a certificate.