In the spirit of history and esprit de corps, the 217th Military Police Detachment continued a unit tradition March 22 - 23 with the Lee’s Retreat Relay Run.
A route stretching from Dinwiddie County to the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park – more than 100 miles – brought nearly 30 MPs together to retrace history. Running in teams of four and carrying the unit guidon, the MPs ran the route while maintaining a nine-minute mile pace. Capt. Donald Moore was enthused to be a part of this tradition of running Gen. Robert E. Lee’s retreat and surrender of his Army of Northern Virginia, having learned about it upon taking command of the 217th.
“This was something Capt. (Ronald) Sargent started for the detachment as it stood up,” said Moore, 217th MP commander. “He did a lot of research into the history to make this meaningful for the unit.”
The 217th took the title “Watchdogs” from Lee’s own military police, then known as the Provost Guard.
“Our motto, ‘Energetic, Efficient and Firm,’ also comes from Gen. Lee and is what he referred to them as being examples of standard bearers,” said Moore. “So in order to commemorate that and bring esprit de corps to the unit, we continue this great team-building effort.”
Moore considers himself a Civil War buff and having been raised in a county close to Appomattox, the run provided him with a different take on the history he grew up around. First Sgt. Mark Smith was impressed by the size of the turnout. In his second year running, he said it really meant something to have twice the number of volunteers participate as last year.
“It says something about the Soldiers we have in our detachment. They were all motivated and did a great job together,” he said.
Proving his motivation – and a great deal of stamina – Sgt. Scott Thompson ran a total of 32 miles during the two-day event.
“I wanted to prove to myself how far I could go,” said Thompson. “It was a lot of fun, and brought unit cohesion and teamwork. I’ll be honest, this was my first year and I was pretty hesitant about the whole thing – not knowing what to expect. But once I got going, I just pushed myself and everyone was motivated throughout. I had a real good time.”
Sgt. Kenneth Busby ran Lee’s Retreat two years earlier and wanted to run again before a change of duty station takes him to Fort Richardson, Alaska.
“I love history,” said Busby. “Being a part of history is awesome, and I love knowing that I can live this close to history everyday. Fort Lee is right there in the middle of it all, and it’s inspired me to study more and travel to different battlefield sites to learn more.”