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Soldiers complete 100-mile walk with country music star to support troops

Email   Print   Share By Sgt. Maria Kappell, 69th ADA Bde. Public Affairs
April 18, 2013 | Leisure
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Soldiers from Service Company, 4-5 ADA Regt., along with country music artist Granger Smith, prepare to start the last day of the 3rd annual Boot Walk at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, April 11. Sgt. Maria Kappell, 69th ADA Bde. Public Affairs
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Soldiers from Service Company, 4-5 ADA Regt., along with country music artist Granger Smith and band members, begin the last leg of the 3rd annual Boot Walk in Killeen, April 11. Sgt. Maria Kappell, 69th ADA Bde. Public Affairs
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Soldiers from Service Company, 4-5 ADA Regt., join with members of the local community to complete the last stretch of the 3rd annual Boot Walk in Killeen, April 11. Courtesy photo
Soldiers from Service Company, 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, along with country music artist Granger Smith, braved the awkward Texas spring weather in order to complete the 3rd annual Boot Walk, April 11.

The walk began April 7 in southern Austin, and the approximate 100 miles to Fort Hood was split up over five days of roadside marching.

The Soldiers went from getting sunburned one day, to facing freezing rain and sleet the next, said 1st Sgt. Christopher Bricker, the first sergeant for Service Company, 4-5 ADA.

The Boot Walk is an event hosted by the Boot Campaign, which provides funds for Soldiers returning home from deployments and transitioning into a civilian lifestyle, Smith said. The funds raised during this event go toward causes such as helping Soldiers prepare for civilian jobs and successfully deal with mental and physical issues they may be struggling with, he added.

This was Smith’s third straight year participating in the 100-mile walk from Austin to Fort Hood, and several of his band members, as well as five Soldiers from Service Co., 4-5 ADA, joined him. Three of the Soldiers from the company finished the walk from start to finish with Smith, and two other Soldiers participated on and off over the five days.

“Just to be able to say I did it is a milestone for me,” said Master Sgt. Helena Buchanan, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the intermediate support element in the company, and one of the Soldiers to complete the entire 100 miles of the walk.

The Boot Walk gave the Soldiers a chance to venture to areas of Texas they may have never otherwise seen, Buchanan said. It was peaceful and, more importantly, it was for a good cause, she added.

“It’s been quite an adventure. It feels great, and everybody should support the troops,” Spc. Carlos Newton, signal support systems specialist in the company, said.

Standing up and supporting the troops was the purpose of the event, and there were certain times during the walk that held more of an emotional magnitude than others. The group walked past a cemetery in Cedar Park and saw the gravestone of a fallen Soldier. That gravestone hit home for many of the Soldiers as they better realized the importance of the Boot Walk, and it proved what they were walking for, Bricker said.

Beginning the Boot Walk on April 11 at the Central Texas State Cemetery held the same meaning for the Soldiers.

Although the weather this year has been worse than previous years, to take one week out of the year to do something like this is always rewarding, Smith said.

The walk ended in Killeen with community support, and Smith threw a concert free to the public to help raise money for the project. The goal of the event was to raise $20,000.

“It feels great to stand for something as a musician,” Smith said.
 
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