On January 4, 2022, five members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets began a 1,000 mile “ruck march” across the southwestern United States. The ruck march started in Yosemite National Park in California and will continue east, ending in Arizona. The march will be completed on the cadets’ winter break.
The term “ruck march” refers to the rucksack worn on the backs of the cadets that holds their extra layers of clothing, food and water. In its fifth year, the Project Atlas Ruck March raises funds and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF). The SOWF provides scholarships and educational counseling for the surviving children of Special Operations soldiers whose lives were lost in the line of duty. The foundation provides funding for college tuition, books, fees, room and board, and computers and printers, as well as fully-funded professional tutoring from kindergarten through college graduation.
This year, the cadets hope to raise $25,000 for the SOWF through their 1,000 mile ruck. To date, the group has raised over $60,500 for the SOWF. Those interested are able to make donations here. Donations of all amounts are appreciated and will go a long way in making an impact.
Previous ruck marches have taken place in the western United States during the students’ winter breaks. Three years ago, cadets marched from California to Oregon; year before last, the cadets marched from the Grand Canyon to the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Last year, cadets completed the 1,000 mile march from Zion National Park in Utah to Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
Each year the goal is to ruck 1,000 miles. It’s truly a group effort for the cadets, as each cadet will march one-sixth of the cumulative total of the route. A portion of the daily itinerary does include some driving of the support vehicle, but the 1,000 miles are accumulated based on the distances the cadets march.
Preparation for the ruck is a months’ long process. Members of the group, known as Project Atlas, are selected based on their physical ability to march and their ability to work as part of team, working collaboratively as a group throughout the 10 days. This year’s Project Atlas group is composed of three junior cadets and two sophomore cadets – all from Company H-1 in the Corps of Cadets. Two of the junior cadets—Bryce Buchanan and Colton Kennedy—are veterans of the ruck march.
The fact that these cadets eagerly take on such a grueling endeavor during their holiday break each year is truly inspiring, and clearly indicates the level of dedication and commitment to service that they embody every day – as Aggies and as members of the Corps of Cadets. “Their actions speak to the kind of selfless servants our cadets are, the values they embody every day, and the kind of selfless leaders they become as members of the Corps of Cadets. More importantly, it says a lot about the quality of leaders they will be in the future, and the impact they will have on others as a result”, remarked Colonel Bryon Stebbins, Interim Commandant of Cadets.
The cadets are scheduled to complete their ten-day ruck march on January 14th at the Petrified National Forest in Arizona. This year’s Project Atlas Ruck March participants are Bryce Buchanan ’23 of North Richland Hills, Colton Kennedy ’23 of Bishop, GA, Thomas Sanitate ’23 of Murphy, Antony Krstulovic Opara ’24 of The Woodlands and David Medina ’24 of San Antonio.
A link to give to the Project Atlas campaign can be accessed here.
Follow the cadets’ ruck march progress; daily updates about the Project Atlas Ruck March will be posted on the @aggiecorps Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and @projectatlasrucks on Instagram and Facebook.