Soldiers earn Manchu buckle during 25-mile march
CAMP CASEY, South Korea — During the Boxer Rebellion, to protect American lives and interests, the 9th Infantry Regiment was deployed to China.
During the deployment, its Soldiers marched 85 miles from Taku Bar to Tientsin, preparing to assasult Tientsin on July 13, 1900.
More than 100 years later, after most Soldiers went home for the day, more than 500 assembled at Carey Gym’s soccer field here.
The gathering had a purpose – the Manchu Mile, a ruck march in full battle gear, carrying a 35-pound ruck sack and holding their weapons at a battle-ready position, for 25 miles.
“The Manchu Mile is part of who you are,” said Lt. Col. Ronald Minty, commander, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
The event is held twice annually to commemorate the 85-mile march the Manchus had to endure during the Boxer Rebellion.
To be worthy of their namesake and take home the coveted Manchu belt buckle, Manchus must complete the entire Manchu Mile. Each company was required to start and finish as a single unit.
“The Manchu Mile really engrains [in] the Soldier that he is part of a team,” said Capt. Jeremy Gross, battalion chaplain. “It is like being in an airborne or air assault unit; if you don’t do the Manchu Mile, you feel left out.”
Apparently, that is true for Soldiers outside the battalion as well.
Lt. Col. Paula Schasberger, the 2nd Infantry Division Staff Judge Advocate, and 14 members of her staff completed the event, all earning the famed Manchu belt buckle, which has its roots anchored in military history.
In the course of battle during the Boxer Rebellion, the regimental commander, Col. Emerson H. Liscum, was struck by Chinese fire. He passed the regimental colors to another Soldier and directed his men to “keep up the fire!” before he died.
Since 1926, the Manchu belt buckle is the only buckle authorized to wear with the Army uniform.
“I’d say that we were all proudly wearing it within 48 hours,” said Schasberger.
Awarded in Liscum’s and Manchu Soldiers’ honor, the buckle is made of polished brass, with the 9th Regimental insignia, a five-toed dragon encircling its edges with the number “9” in the center for the regiment, and the Manchu motto “Keep up the Fire.”
“The Manchu Mile is a very prestigious event to complete,” said Gross, who has completed four Manchu Miles while stationed with the battalion. “The Manchu Mile makes you appreciate the fact that you are part of something really bigger than yourself.”