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582 soldiers trek up Barstow Road for 17th Annual Road March
BARSTOW • Fort Irwin soldiers marched up Barstow Road Tuesday morning from the Harvey House to the Barstow Veterans Home of California as part the 17th annual Road March.
Approximately 582 of the National Training Center’s 11th Armored Calvary Regiment marched approximately three miles uphill to their destination on Tuesday. It was the final leg of a trek that spanned roughly 40 miles, starting at Fort Irwin.
Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Simpao said 232 of the troops began rucking at 7 a.m. Monday before reaching Rainbow Basin Natural Area, roughly eight miles north of Barstow. The troops were joined by eight members of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, including six from Crew 40.
Simpao said the troops camped out in tents and had their feet “doctored up,” before resuming their march at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Simpao said the 232 troops were met by the remaining troops at the Harvey House at about 7:30 a.m. before the final three-mile stretch to the Veterans Home.
As the Army post’s soldiers marched in formation, some spectators showed support standing along Barstow Road as Barstow Police officers cleared and controlled traffic along the route. Several Barstow Community College employees, including President/Superintendent Debbie DiThomas, waved flags in support of the troops as they marched past the college.
After reaching their destination, the soldiers made their way into the Veterans Home dining hall in a single-formation line. There they had lunch with veterans, made a $2,200 contribution to the Barstow Veterans Home and were entertained by a special guest — a Gen. George S. Patton impersonator.
Resident Mike Moore, a Franklin D. Roosevelt impersonator, invited Stan Wollcott to portray Patton at the Veterans Home. Wollcott spoke to the troops and recited Patton’s 1944 speech to the Third Army.
“I was really impressed with these soldiers,” Moore said. “The fact that they care enough to visit the people that made it possible for them to grow up in freedom, and now they are paying it back, is pretty impressive.”
According to Fort Irwin officials, the march builds “espirit de corps” amongst the soldiers and demonstrates their acknowledgment of the sacrifices older veterans gave so they can “enjoy the freedoms of being an American.”
Jose Quintero can be reached at 760-256-4122 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com.