For the past eight years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reuniting with the Men I served with. Each and every gathering gives me an opportunity to enjoy the brotherhood and strong bond created from the days we started training together. It is the call to duty, the ideals and the shared title of being a Reconnaissance Man that truly binds us. To define brotherhood is not in words, but actions. It’s about the Men who sacrifice, fighting to your left and right and knowing that you’re not alone. This next year marks a special journey that will push us as a team to complete our mission of summiting Mount Baker. Our continued commitment to each other is something I hold near to my heart. I look forward to the challenge and overcoming obstacles as a team in order to accomplish this mission
As the Battalion Operations Chief, I had the privilege of leading 1st Reconnaissance Battalion into battle against the enemy in Afghanistan during the spring of 2010. During this deployment, like every other combat deployment, one of the grim realities about the war was the inherent risk of potentially losing a Marine or seeing one of your own incur horrifying injuries. During the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, countless improvised explosive devices (IED’S) have sent many seasoned warfighters back home severely injured. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb one of the most glaciated mountains in the lower 48 states with a group of unsung heroes! For me, it is an honor to be part of the reconnaissance team. The Reconnaissance Community is a small, tight-knit community that always looks out for their fallen and wounded comrades.
Almost nine years ago, our Platoon ended a deployment that changed our lives forever. The bonds that have been made throughout our endeavors both during and after our time in service will continue for as long as we all can get together, either for a reunion or an adventure. This climb specifically will help test our resolve and unity once again in a way most people never get the chance to experience. I myself am personally very motivated to train for this event and am looking forward to the opportunity to embark on such an awesome adventure with my brothers.
Whenever I get into the mountains, it’s immediate satisfaction and rejuvenating. It’s where I go to recharge my batteries every single chance I get. When I can get above the tree line, it’s even more of a sanctuary for me. To be able to do all of this at once, to climb and summit one of the most glaciated peaks in the lower 48, and to do it with the brothers that I served with is an amazing opportunity. It’s important for us as brothers to come together and suffer once again. All of the training and preparation leading up to the climb will be part of the experience. This allows us to be competitive with one another once again, but in the end come together as a team, relying on each other’s hard work and dedication for the success of the mission. I will be looking forward to the beauty of Mount Baker, the challenge, bringing up old stories, and just the overall brotherhood bond.
I've done other challenges, but never to this magnitude. These aren't just guys I simply served with, but these Recon Marines are the ones I owe my life to. In my mind, they are like my older Brothers and it would be amazing to work as a team with them again. Instead of just having an annual reunion, I would love to see us tackling even more challenging endeavors each year if we could. I imagine this just as a start to something much greater. Something that can bring the entire Recon community together in a way that can not only do good for them, but most importantly for others as well. I’ve never been this excited in my entire life. It is an absolute honor for me to have this opportunity.
I was fortunately surrounded by a exceptional group of Reconnaissance Marines during my time in the Corps. Our 2010 deployment brought us very close together and showed that we were capable of accomplishing a tremendous amount, while working together. Even as we took very different paths in our military and civilian careers, we’ve remained close. I’m excited to get together again, as a reunited team, and embark on this mountain and the challenge of summiting Mount Baker.
Hiking can be a unique way to explore a new place. Our platoon is a bunch of large and loud men and spending quality time with these brothers can be tricky, however this year, we have plans to hike Mount Baker and I can’t wait. Hiking with a group like this allows me to check in with them on a deeper level and be more of a supportive brother. This special time affords me the opportunity to be of service to those who are most important to me. After all, there’s nothing like hours of winding paths to get the lowdown on how your best buds are really feeling.
There have been a few experiences in life that provided me with the feeling of instant fulfillment. One of those is reuniting with a group of old friends I consider BROTHERS. Another is simply stepping into the mountains. The opportunity to climb Mount Baker with this group of Marines combines both of those elements. It’s an opportunity for us to get out and suffer. To challenge ourselves and to rely on each other as a team the way we once did serving this great nation.
Despite being nearly a decade in the past, there is not a day that goes by in which I don’t think about the men I fought alongside with in 2010. As time has brought clarity, I’ve realized that the shared challenge we undertook together is what created the brotherhood we have and gave us the stories to share at our annual reunions. Climbing Mount Baker together provides us a new set of challenges to overcome as a team, and I hope will help strengthen the bond we already share. Hopefully we’ll have some fun and share some laughs while we’re at it too!
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I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to once again walk with this small band of Men I have grown to call my brothers. The lessons I learned while serving with them have continued to serve me to this day. I believe the bonds of brotherhood forged on the battlefield are reinforced when we unite as we have in the past to achieve a common goal.
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I believe in the Men and the mission. When I came to the Reconnaissance Community I was a child. I grew up in the company of Men that became my brothers, and walked among giants. My platoon brought me home, and they remain my life. Every year I can make it to a reunion, is a year well lived, and time well spent. The Reconnaissance Creed has many statements that ring true in civilian life; “Accept all challenges.” “Maintain the reputation.” “Exceeding beyond the limitations.” “Conquering all obstacles.” “Never quit.” “Achieve what others can only imagine.” all of these things do not simply stop when you hang up the Dress Blues. This climb is another opportunity for us to prove that we still have true grit and determination. Climbing Mount Baker as a team will display that there is no limit to what can be accomplished by Recon Marines.
We have done many forced hikes in the past. This will be the first one I'm volunteering for. These guys are my brothers and I'm proud to join them on this new adventure. My best days of the year are now the handful of days spent with these men. I look forward to continued training for this event, and to seeing everyone summit Mount Baker together.
Leaving the military has many challenges, some known and many unknown. Over the years I have learned it is always easier to face these challenges together. The bonds that were made during my time in the Reconnaissance community have, and will be everlasting. I look forward to every reunion and am humbled by the brothers I have served with. This is an incredible opportunity to reunite nearly ten years after our Afghanistan deployment to challenge ourselves and complete another objective together. I look forward to meeting up as a group and conquering this challenge and taking that strength from our brotherhood back into my everyday life. I would also encourage other veterans to challenge themselves and connect with other veterans to help build and maintain these bonds.
Click here to donate for Joseph Kuepper
Even after leaving the Corps, almost 6 years ago, I have never left this amazing brotherhood. Being a Reconnaissance Marine, makes you part of a tight knit community, but nothing can compare to the bond forged in combat with the man to your left and to your right who turned our worst day, while deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, to one of our proudest. I look forward to seeing my brothers once again during this years challenge.
Being a Recon Marine is to overcome any challenge that life throws at you weather it be physically or mentally. After my enlistment ended in 2012 I became very distant from the 0321 community and everyone in it. I finally have my mind back in the right place and having unfortunately missed the past reunions I am now anxiously awaiting to tackle Mt.Baker with the men that I hold in the highest regards.