A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Fond du Lac campus student-soldier marched 14 miles to school with a 50-pound pack as he considered his service to the country on Veterans Day.
Matt Toeller left his home in Eden at 5:30 a.m. Nov. 11 as he made his way on a route that brought him to County Trunk V and eventually to Fond du Lac Avenue/U.S. Highway 45 on the southeast entrance to the city of Fond du Lac. He continued the ruck march with the heavy pack on his back to Johnson Street and finally to Campus Drive.
“I have served in the Army for five years—three years active duty in California and two years here as a Reservist,” Toeller said, adding that it was the first time he’s rucked to that extent in three years. “I did it for Veterans Day, to get back to the experience, and to sort of relive what it was like just rucking, and to kind of think about how my service to this country matters.”
Ruck marching has military origins. Soldiers often carry rucksacks—sturdy backpacks designed to carry heavy loads—as they hike to a destination.
Toeller is in his first year working toward an associate degree at the Fond du Lac campus. He is still undecided on a major as he moves toward a bachelor’s degree.
He earned a diploma at the Challenge Academy at Fort McCoy and a high school diploma from Campbellsport High School.
He began military training at Fort Benning, Georgia, as an infantryman, followed by three years at Fort Irwin, considered a top Army training facility in San Bernardino County, California. Interestingly, during a portion of his time at Fort Irwin’s Armored Calvary Regiment, he was part of a horse detachment—a special ceremonial unit tasked with preserving the history and traditions of the original mounted Calvary Troopers—and trained other soldiers in horse-riding.
After his tour at Fort Irwin, he joined the Army Reserve’s 102nd MP (military police) company based in Fond du Lac. He trained at Fort Hunter Liggett, a specialized training center in California, to become a military police officer.
The Specialist (E4) is hopeful to earn his Sergeant (E5) rank in the near future.
“Service members like Matt are a great reminder that most of us join and serve of our own accord without the need for recognition or praise,” said Aaron Kloss, Veterans Resource Center coordinator. “Rather than asking what he can do to honor veterans or waiting for someone else to take the lead, Matt took the initiative and set a great example for the rest of us to follow.”