LSU freshman and friends trek 323 miles to raise awareness for veterans


Courtesy: LSU College of Engineering

Courtesy: LSU College of Engineering.
Colin Raby alongside his fellow ROTC Cadets.

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRProud) – An LSU freshman is reflecting on the long journey he recently completed to raise money and awareness for veterans and their families.

According to a web article by LSU, Colin Raby, a mechanical engineering student marched 323 miles from Baton Rouge to the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida back in January. Raby didn’t do it alone. He had fellow Air Force ROTC cadets Austin Firmin, Zach Toups, Dylan Cone, and Ben Flickinger, alongside Marine Cameron Richards and National Guardsman Jake Engle join him for the trip. The group had planned the trip since the fall of 2019.

As part of their mission, the seven chose K9s for Warriors and the National League of POW/MIA Families as the two organizations to raise money for, with a goal of $8,000.

“We chose K9s for Warriors because it helps those who fight and come back with issues, and POW/MIA Families helps the families of those who fought and never came back,” Raby said. “I don’t think there’s enough we can do for the veterans and their families who are suffering.”

The group left campus January 3 for their journey by “ruck-marching”, a military training exercise that entails walking 10-20 miles at a fast pace over rough terrain in boots, fatigues, and a helmet while carrying weapons and a 45-pound backpack.

“It’s not just physical, but mental training as well,” Raby said. “Physically, it’s not that hard. You can have aches and pains but we’re going to keep going even when we’re under stress. The ruck marches get you comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

The journey took them five days to complete with many challenges facing them including weather, but Raby said it was all for a good cause.

“There were a whole bunch of metaphors I thought of while doing this march,” Raby said. “When you’re on a dark road at night, it’s like being in a tough situation in life but you keep going. I like the quote, ‘The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step.’ Eventually, there will be the dawn.”

Here is an interview with Colin Raby as he reflects on his march:

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