CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — Carrying over 20 pounds, a weapon, and for some, their nation’s flag flying from their rucksack, more than 1,100 participants trekked along the countryside of Kosovo during the Danish Contingency March at Camp Novo Selo on April 5.
This was the first DANCON March held this year, which was compromised of Kosovo Force soldiers, Kosovo Police, European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo personnel and others.
“The DANCON March is normally conducted by every Danish unit on deployments,” said Danish army Capt. Martin Hillman, contingent commander. “It has been conducted in most parts of the world so far.”
The DANCON is a tradition dating back to 1972, and has been carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Africa and other locations. This year, each participant was given a choice to march 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) or 50 kilometers (31 miles) through the uneven trails, but all for a good cause.
“We give all the surplus funds we receive from the march to veteran homes and Danish soldiers that have problems after the war,” Hillman said. “So it’s kind of a march with a higher purpose.”
For Pfc. Christopher Gores, a human resource specialist with the 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, that was more than a reason to participate in the march.
“Having lost a brother-in-law in Afghanistan a couple years ago, I always like contributing and giving back,” Gores said.
Although the course was long, there was one thing that helped soldiers keep moving — camaraderie.
“The march has been a great chance to build esprit de corps amongst our multinational groups here,” said U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Lorenson, a physician assistant with the squadron. “Everybody seems to be having a great time and it has definitely been a challenge, but a lot of fun.”
It was also a great chance for Lorenson to bond with his fellow soldiers and foreign counterparts.
“Its nothing but pride to be out here with my men, and it’s something that really shows we are all together doing something in (Kosovo Force) that’s other than working,” Lorenson said. “It’s a good chance to break away and do something fun.”
Usually the march is 25 kilometers but, for this occasion, the Danish contingent allowed participants to do an extra lap, and for Gores, that was the perfect excuse to get out of the office.
“It’s nice to get outside of camp for once,” Gores said.
At the end of the event, every participant who crossed the finish line in time received a Danish Contingent March Medal and certificate. They plan to do another march later in the year.