Aviano AB hosts the Norwegian Foot March for the first time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jenna Bond
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 606th Air Control Squadron hosted Aviano Air Base’s first Marsjmerket, more commonly known as the Norwegian Foot March at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 5, 2024.

First held in 1915, the Norwegian Armed Forces, the Forsvaret, meaning “the defense” in Norwegian, worked to expose new members to field conditions. One of the strategic goals was to be able to move larger units of troops over a great distance swiftly and in a manner that enabled them to be combat ready.

Over the next century, the event evolved into a foreign service badge earned by completing the foot march to standard. The Norwegian Foot March Badge is widely considered to be the most challenging foreign military badge to earn. Participants must complete an 18.6 mile course wearing a combat uniform and a weighted ruck sack of 24 pounds in time limits based on age.

Tech. Sgt. Decker Dudley, 606th Air Control Squadron, reached out to an Airman who organized the Norwegian Foot March at his last duty station to find out if he knew of anyone hosting one at Aviano Air Base or somewhere nearby.

“He told me that if I wanted to do it again, I could organize the event myself, so I talked to a few of my coworkers to see what their interest was,” said Dudley. “They liked the idea and helped me plan the event.”

Dudley and his team reached out to the Norwegian Embassy. Once they were approved to host, they began making flyers and spreading the word.

“The event became larger than we would’ve anticipated and nearly 20 volunteers,” explained Dudley. “With the help of my coworkers, we had gotten the word spread around base through as many channels as we could think of, even to include Vicenza Army Base and a special operations detachment in Poland.”

With a turnout of nearly 175 members who participated, U.S. Air Force First Lt. Bryce Jamias, 703rd Munitions Squadron safety officer, was the first to complete the ruck and the first woman to cross the finish line was U.S. Army Specialist Samantha Dills, intelligence analyst.

“This meant a lot to me because I’ve been preparing for something like this for very long time,” said Dills. “Before my great grandma passed away, she told me to keep moving forward and do the things I really want, so that’s what I did.”