CWU News

CWU Cadets Proud to Host Norwegian Foot March Event in Ellensburg

The Central Washington University Army ROTC program hosted a one-of-a-kind event last Friday night, welcoming service members from around the Northwest for an 18.6-mile march along the John Wayne Trail in Ellensburg.

Members of the CWU program were joined by cadets from Washington and Oregon for the Norwegian Foot March, which started at 9 p.m. and required all 120 participants to hike the trail in the dark in four hours and 40 minutes (or less), carrying a 25-pound rucksack.

The team-building event — sanctioned by the Norwegian military — was led by Major Joseph Paolilli, a CWU professor of military science, and Kai Covey, chief of cadet operations at CWU.

“This was an awesome opportunity for each individual soldier to win an award, but what I’m more excited about is that it’s a chance to build relationships with other ROTC programs,” said Covey, a senior who helped coordinate the event with the Norwegian embassy. “It was nice that we got to work with other National Guard, reserve, and active duty units that we don’t typically get exposed to.”

The march was first held in 1915 as a test of strength and endurance for members of the Norwegian military and to expose new soldiers to the conditions they can expect in the field. Those who complete the march earn the Norwegian Armed Forces Marching Badge — also known as a “Marsjmerket” — that they can wear on their uniforms throughout their careers.

The Foot March is staged every year by the Norwegian military, and certification typically requires a government official to be present to sanction the event. But with COVID-19 safety precautions still in place this spring, Central’s ROTC program received permission to host the event.

The sanctioned foreign award carries with it a great deal of prestige, and participating in the march was a valuable learning experience for the cadets.

“Doing something like this was important for the cadets as we graduate and move forward because we’re going to become leaders in the Army, leading soldiers just like this,” Covey said. “This was an incredible opportunity, and hopefully the Norwegian Army is proud of us.”

Joining the CWU contingent were cadets from Washington State University, the University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle University, and Eastern Washington University. Also in attendance were members of the 898 Brigade Engineer Battalion of the Washington Army National Guard; the 1-161 Infantry Battalion of the Washington Army National Guard; and the 320th Psychological Operations, Army Reserves, of Portland.

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518.