These future military officers walked 1,100 miles to raise funds for families of fallen service members

Five weary college men from Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets are trudging into Portland, Oregon, on Monday, cappi...

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 8:25 AM
Updated: Jan 8, 2019 8:25 AM

Five weary college men from Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets are trudging into Portland, Oregon, on Monday, capping an 11-day, 1,100-mile odyssey from Death Valley, California.

They've braved snow and mountains, and most of all their own injuries: blisters, sore ankles and nagging Achilles tendons. Their sacrifices are minor compared to the fallen US service members they're highlighting with their walk.

Military

They call their trip "Project Atlas," and set up an online fundraising page for the public to contribute.

The group's hike through parts of California, Nevada and Oregon has raised more than $8,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. That organization provides college scholarships for youth whose parents have been killed in the line of duty. The cadets' march is over, but their donation page is still collecting funds. They hope to raise $15,000.

CNN caught up with the young men as they were huffing and puffing through their last few miles.

Hunter Birt, a 20-year-old junior at Texas A&M, said that as college students, the young men felt an obligation to help those they know might not gain the same educational opportunities they enjoy.

"The meaning behind what we are doing is giving awareness to those who've sacrificed so much, and sometimes everything," Birt said.

A rolling relay

Their trek, or a "ruck" in military parlance, had each man carry 50-pound rucksacks on their backs, each of the five committing to rucking an average 20 miles each day, keeping them on pace to finish their journey in 11 days. It was a nonstop relay. When they weren't rucking, they were either driving one of the two chase vehicles or catching needed sleep.

Birt and his then-roommate dreamed up the idea a year ago, as something "fun" to do during winter break. Four of them set off together last year on a similar 1,050-mile journey from El Paso, Texas, to Death Valley, California. It raised a little less than $7,000.

This year's march, from Death Valley to Portland, featured two cadets from last year's ruck and three new ones. Birt's former roommate is now deployed with the Army, serving in Africa.

With two successful rucks under his belt, Birt said he's already thinking of recruiting a group for a third trek next year.

Eventually, Birt plans to serve in the US Marine Corps. But for now he has to get ready for classes to resume next Monday. At that point, he still may have some blisters. But he'll also have a tale to tell about funds raised and miles rucked.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
LaPorte89430
Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
Floyd77246
Monroe74630
Delaware71452
Dubois68712
Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
Vigo61910
Jackson5855
Warrick57930
LaGrange55710
Shelby54627
Grant52630
Dearborn49628
Morgan46734
Clinton4303
Henry37620
Wayne36810
White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
Daviess26420
Greene24634
Franklin24114
Jasper2342
DeKalb2304
Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
Fayette1867
Carroll1852
Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
Huntington1223
Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
Sullivan1131
Adams962
Jay910
Owen871
Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 99969

Reported Deaths: 3668
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18182523
Cuyahoga13414499
Hamilton9583255
Lucas5288323
Montgomery431894
Summit3523222
Marion292245
Butler289163
Mahoning2532255
Pickaway238342
Stark1813139
Warren176739
Lorain173678
Columbiana165660
Trumbull1518106
Fairfield136732
Delaware129219
Licking126049
Clark114214
Lake111138
Wood103058
Clermont92111
Medina91435
Miami83238
Tuscarawas78114
Portage75461
Allen73244
Greene68412
Belmont62126
Mercer60513
Richland60012
Erie57027
Ashtabula56246
Geauga55444
Wayne52958
Ross4684
Huron3955
Darke39329
Ottawa37726
Sandusky37316
Hancock3723
Athens3561
Madison35510
Holmes3276
Lawrence2790
Auglaize2506
Union2461
Muskingum2251
Jefferson2242
Scioto2241
Putnam20517
Seneca2043
Knox2037
Washington20222
Preble2012
Coshocton1926
Shelby1904
Crawford1745
Champaign1732
Morrow1682
Hardin16412
Clinton1626
Highland1561
Logan1522
Fulton1471
Wyandot1458
Ashland1433
Defiance1424
Williams1343
Brown1272
Perry1233
Guernsey1167
Henry1162
Hocking1169
Fayette1120
Carroll1115
Monroe9118
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding670
Gallia651
Adams592
Meigs380
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan250
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
61° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
61° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 61°
Sunny, Seasonable Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events