In 20 years of March Backs, Wallace Ward has seen it all. In the beginning, the march was 15 miles, now 20 years later it is only 12. Over the years it has moved from taking place in the middle of the night to starting in the morning. There has been rain and thunderstorms that soaked and threatened the marchers. There was a hamstring injury that slowed him down but couldn't stop him.
No matter the obstacle, the distance or the weather, since members of the Long Gray Line were invited to the March Back 20 years ago Wallace Ward has completed every single one. This year as he stepped off from Camp Buckner before dawn with India Company, Ward, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in the Class of 1958, earned the distinction of being the oldest graduate to participate in the annual tradition. He first joined the March Back at 67 and now aged 87 he once again walked the entire way from start to finish.
"I come back to March Back every year because I love to run," Ward said. "I've participated in 10 marathons and one ultramarathon that was 62 miles. I have been running and walking all my life so when they said they wanted people to hike back with the plebes I thought that was a great opportunity since I love being outside running and walking."
The decision brought him full circle as it was running that first introduced Ward to West Point. A track athlete in nearby Washingtonville, New York, Ward competed at a regional track meet at West Point as a high schooler. He entered the meet with a single goal - earning the one point he needed to secure his varsity letter for the season -- and determined to do whatever it took to secure it. With the finish line nearby and his goal within reach, Ward dove across the line. His last bit of effort earned him his letter, but it also left shrapnel in his left elbow that has served as a, "reminder of West Point for the rest of my life." Read more.