SLIPPERY ROCK (KDKA) — While most college students are getting ready for spring semester finals, ROTC members at Slippery Rock University had something else on their minds over the weekend.

“There’s going to be water, some Gatorade, granola bars and snacks.”

These are necessary instructions when you are getting ready to march a full marathon with a 35 pound pack on your back. This is no ordinary walk in the park.

“It’s 26 miles, and each one of us for Slippery Rock decided to choose a person who has fallen or in remembrance to ruck the entire thing for,” ROTC cadet Dylan Cleveland said.

Packs had photos of the fallen who were being remembered.

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“We also have decided to make this a big event in honor of the fallen comrades we’ve got across the Army, across our armed forces, and especially here at Slippery Rock University as we have a some gold star alumni who have fallen in combat — graduates of this program,” Ltc. Jeff Barta said.

For some, the marathon march was to remember family members.

“I decided to ruck for my grandfather, Charles Cleveland, who was a petty officer in World War II. He just passed away about three years ago over the summer so I decided in remembrance to him, I would complete this 26 miles for him,” Cleveland said.

There was a serious training element to the march around Moraine State Park for the ROTC cadets. While their classmates think about summer jobs and internships, many of them are getting ready for more military service.

“We have cadets training really all over the world this summer, and this is the final event to get ourselves ready for the next step in our careers,”  Ltc. Barta said.

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