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Jan 11 2024

Participation NATO Joint Forces Command Detachment at the Four Days Marches Nijmegen

Nijmegen, Netherlands - The JFCNP Marching Detachment joined with 11 participants on the International Four Days Marches in Nijmegen (Netherlands) from 18-21 July to improve NATO relationships, demonstrate the strength of the Alliance and showcase the high physical quality of our personnel.

The International Four Days Marches Nijmegen (4DMN) is the largest multi-day marching event in the world with about 45.000 participants and over 70 countries participating. It is organized every year in Nijmegen (Netherlands) as a means of promoting sport and exercise. Even though the marching event originated in 1909 as training event for Dutch soldiers, nowadays the participants are mostly civilians. The about 5000 military participants have to march 40km each day for four days, in uniform, carrying at least 10kg (22lb) marching weight for men aged 18-49; for women the weight is optional. Finishers receive a royally approved medal as well as finishing teams receive a team medal.

This year it was the first time that JFCNP participated with an official detachment to present the headquarters at this prestigious and historic event. The detachment consisted of military members from 6 NATO countries (USA, GBR, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands). Elements of the detachment started training from February ’23 on, mainly in the vicinity of Lago Patria, but also participated in the 40-mile Col Darby Memorial March hosted by the US 173d ICBT around Lake Garda late April ’23.

Finally the time came to travel to Nijmegen. The detachment arrived on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of July at Heumensoord, a temporarily military camp in the middle of the forest where all participating military are accommodated in large tents with sections for the detachments. The first days were used to get familiar with the camp, get the marching kit ready, do the final registration, visit the festivities going on in the centre of Nijmegen and to participate in Sunset march to remember the 48 US soldiers from 82nd Airborn Division who died during a river crossing in WWII.


Every morning around 03.30 hrs everyone in the Heumensoord camp was awoken by the horrible Four Days Marches wake up song in order to line up at about 05.00 hours and finally depart half an hour later. The marching route on the first day run through the city Elst and the second day though Wijchen. All the cities were crowded with a lot of enthusiastic spectators who offered sweets, vegetables, water and a lot of loud music to cheer the participants on. On completion of the second day, the detachment was regrettably reduced from 11 to 9 persons, due to serious blisters and scratched away skin. The third day is the ‘seven hills day’ that run through Groesbeek, where the detachment stopped to pay honors at the Canadian military cemetery where all 2619 Canadian servicemen are buried who were killed during the liberation of the Netherlands during WWII. Finally the fourth day the march went through Cuijk, crossing the Maas river via a military pontoon bridge. The military participants finish about 5km before the city center of Nijmegen and get their medals pinned. While the day’s march is technically over, most marchers are happy to voluntarily complete an extra 5km down Via Gladiola to the official finish line. Along this stretch, all the finishers are presented with gladiola flowers, like the gladiators during the Roman times, by an overwhelming amount of spectators. In the evening, the ‘Blister Ball’ was organized at Heumensoord with live music. The next morning the detachment departed early from Heumensoord and returned to Naples.

The 4DMN were experienced by the detachment as a great team event. It not only required a lot psychic and fysical, but it was also a very international fraternizing event. A perfect occasion to meet and greet our collegues from Brunsum, Mons, ARC, GER-NLD Core but also many other international military detachments. With all the lessons learned from this first participation with JFCNP, the detachment is already looking forward to organizing participation in 2024!

Story by JFC Naples J9

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