7. Chapter – The Kepi March. When you become a Legionnaire

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french foreign legion joining

The big day arrived after 4 weeks of hard training at the farm. I don’t even really know which part was the hardest.

  • Maybe that one of the long distance runnings during I had to take a shit in the bush and wipe my ass with a leaf?
  • The white-nights I passed with the iron in my hand?
  • The thousands of push-ups?
  • The fact that I could not express myself in French correctly?

The only thing I am sure in that I don’t want to do it again.

The last Monday at the farm, we were ready to go for the adventure.

Generally, a Kepi March is between 60 and 80km which has to be done in 2 days. My section did around 70km in a normal area. Achievable, but we needed to beat our well-known enemy before. Ourselves.

The best one in each group got a radio in his backpack. Fortunately or not, it was not me who had to carry a 7kg brick on my back, but at the end of the day I would have already chosen the radio…

The first 20-22km were fine.

Everybody is motivated, everyone wants to become a legionnaire. But after 25km when somebody says, okay guys we only have 12km left, is demotivating as hell.

After the 30th km we did a 20 minutes break for dinner.

Once everybody has finished his NATO approved conserve, a Brazilian guy could not stand up anymore. His boots were bloody and his feet wounded everywhere. He was not able to continue alone. I got his backpack with the half of his stuffs and the others of my team helped him to finish the remaining 5km.

That was the longest part of that day. The Brazilian was suffering of his wounds but he still completed the first part of march, so he could continue the next day. As we arrived to our camp point, after a short wash everybody went to sleep in the quickly installed tents. Except those who were doing guard that night.

The wake up on the second day was difficult.

The muscles were tired and a big part of the section got some vesicle on the feet. We arranged our tents in the backpacks and started the second day.

The motivation was not the same anymore. Until the muscles were cold, the march was harder and more painful than the normal. Before lunch, the situation became worst.

A French guy got injured and the Brazilian could not continue anymore, so both had to give up. Those who cannot finish the Kepi march, go to the infirmary until they are okay. But if they want to continue, they have to return to the farm for another month.

The last kilometers I only saw the legs of my comrade before me.

I’ve never been physically that tired before but when they announced that we only have 500 meters left, we started to run. We arrived on the top of a hill where our truck was already waiting us and installed our tents there.

A bit later we had an assembly in my group to get the orders for next day and two guys forgot their FAMAS in the tent. If somebody does a stupid thing like that, we call it a “Banane”. They had to do two fractions of guard that night.

The next day we had to march a few kilometers more until we reached the bus. But it was more a pleasant walk as we have done our job the day before.

Our ceremony of the “Remise the Képi Blanc was in the castle of Carcassone

Our chemises were already prepared at the farm and the instructors explained us how the ceremony is going to go. Until that day, we did not have right to touch our Kepi Blanc, just with the plastic sack on it.

The Romanian sergent brought his camera over to film the whole ceremony and warned us. If he sees somebody to move before the order, he is going to make desert that guy before the end of the basic trainings.

We put our Kepis on and officers and high ranked sous-officers (NCOs) came by to give us the insigne of the 4th Foreign Regiment. At the end of the ceremony we had an appetizer with the authorities of Castel.

We finished the night in a restaurant with our instructors to celebrate our “promotion”. We officially became members of the “family of the French Foreign Legion”.

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