Royal Danish Air Force brings deployment tradition to Shaw AFB

With 49 years of tradition in the making, the Royal Danish Air Force hosted their first Danish Contingent, or DANCON, march on U.S. soil at Shaw Air Force Base, June 5.

More than 60 participants from the RDAF, Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central), 20th Fighter Wing, U.S. Army Central and other coalition forces had six hours to carry a 22-pound ruck for 15.5 miles.

“The history of the DANCON dates back to 1972, where it was held for the first time at a U.N. mission in Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Royal Danish Air Force Lt. Col. John Roland Pedersen, the Danish detachment commander. “Ever since, it has become tradition that Danish contingents on a mission around the world have arranged a march similar to this one, which we are doing today.”

The march not only gives participants the opportunity to demonstrate their physical abilities, but it also allows them to build camaraderie within their own units and with members from other military branches and countries.

“At some point my legs were cramped up pretty bad,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Layelquinn Ferguson, a forward observer assigned to the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, USARCENT. “I was actually unable to stand until a coalition member stopped and helped me stretch and that was a huge help. To be honest, I would not have been able to get up by myself if he did not stop and help me up. And that’s what this is all about, coalition forces helping each other out.”

The DANCON march is not just about showing how fast you can finish and who finishes first. This traditional ruck reinforces teamwork and shows how military members take care of each other. They have great pride in upholding traditions and honoring legacies.

“The purpose of the DANCON is to challenge your physical, mental endurance and determination, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to meet new friends, have a few laughs and a pleasant break in the daily routines,” Pedersen said.

Members from the RDAF recently deployed to Shaw AFB as part of the recent transition of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, known as “Kingpin,” from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to Shaw AFB. DANCONs, previously held at deployed locations overseas, are a legacy that will continue by the RDAF at Shaw AFB and other places around the globe.

Royal Danish Air Force Lt. Col. John Roland Pedersen briefs rules and safety guidelines to members from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and Royal Danish Air Force as they prepare to begin the inaugural Danish Contingency, or DANCON, ruck march at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 5, 2021. RDAF members recently deployed to Shaw Air Force Base to work side by side with Airmen from the 727 Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. This event marks the first DANCON march held on U.S. soil. Traditionally, RDAF members host 25 km (15.5 miles) DANCON ruck marches at the conclusion of team deployments in the Middle East and other locations around the globe.

Royal Danish Air Force Lt. Col. John Roland Pedersen briefs rules and safety guidelines to members from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and Royal Danish Air Force as they prepare to begin the inaugural Danish Contingency, or DANCON, ruck march at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 5, 2021. RDAF members recently deployed to Shaw Air Force Base to work side by side with Airmen from the 727 Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. This event marks the first DANCON march held on U.S. soil. Traditionally, RDAF members host 25 km (15.5 miles) DANCON ruck marches at the conclusion of team deployments in the Middle East and other locations around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Elysia Wray)

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