By Rose L. Thayer
Fort Hood Herald
Country musician Granger Smith has always been an avid supporter of the troops, performing in Iraq and Kuwait, as well as most major installations in the United States. For his most recent show at Fort Hood, he wanted to do something more.
"I'm not trying to be a soldier," Smith said. "I wanted to put a small sacrifice on my body."
To do that, the Round Rock resident walked 100 miles from Austin to Fort Hood in combat boots. He started April 25 and arrived on Friday for a concert at Legend's Pub.
"It's my civilian duty to those in service because they signed up for a job that allows me to do mine," Smith said.
As far as the trip, Smith said it wasn't easy. To prepare, he said, he walked about 30 miles in combat boots in a series of small walks over three weeks.
"Nothing could have prepared me for how hot it was," Smith said.
He had to stop about every five miles to reapply bandages and tend to the blisters on his feet; eventually, he cut part of the boots off because "the threads felt like knives."
On the last day of the walk, Smith stopped at the Killeen Mall and encouraged others to meet him there and walk the last six miles with him.
"It's an eye-opener for everybody," said Sgt. Justin Caple of Fort Hood's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Special Events. He met Smith at the mall with a handful of soldiers.
"Not everyone sees what we go through," he said.
Theresa Reeves, whose husband is on his fifth deployment, heard what Smith was doing and dropped all plans for the day and met him at the mall.
She found last-minute, after-school care for her oldest daughter and pushed her two toddlers in a stroller the whole way.
"It's something I can do for him," Reeves said of her husband, who's currently in Iraq with 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
"He made me cry because he told me he admired me for even considering it," she said.
Reeves said she was in awe of Smith for doing this walk.
"We have performers here all the time. How many can say they walked 100 miles in combat boots? Especially in this heat," Reeves said. "He didn't have to do that. He could've just come, put on a show and left."
In the end, Smith said his ultimate goal was to brighten a soldier's day and encourage other civilians to say thanks.
"The whole point was that if you hear about it, go out and thank a soldier," he said. "As civilians, that's what we can do, thank soldiers and remember that we are a country at war."
Smith said he's already gotten calls to see if he would do the walk again at other military installations, but he said he's not so sure right now.
"Ask me in a couple of weeks when the blisters have healed," he said.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.