Marine Corps Base Quantico -- “When people are shopping at the Commissary and they get frustrated because they can’t find anything on the shelves, they can come here and de-stress,” joked Rick Nealis, Marine Corps Marathon director, at the ribbon-cutting for Semper Progrendi trail Sept. 14.
The new trail, a 0.35-mile shady loop through the woods behind Fowler Hall, the MCM headquarters building aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, was built by a Springfield, Virginia high school senior for his Eagle Scout project. The student, Aeris, a senior at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, and scouts from Springfield’s Troop 1145, worked with MCM and MCBQ National Resources and Environmental Affairs to finish the trail this summer.
“I’ve been taking a stroll here every afternoon and I’m a better man for it!” Nealis continued. “My staff will tell you.”
Aeris, 17, said he found out about the trail project from his former troop leader and felt drawn to it. Constructing the trail involved clearing brush and small trees, cutting branches, bringing in wood chips, and laying down bricks. He said the work took 20 hours over eight days. As many as 14 scouts aged 12 to 17, as well as MCBQ staff, assisted him.
“Thank you for letting me sculpt your dream,” Aeris, who plans to attend one of the service academies when he graduates from high school this year, told attendees of the dedication ceremony.
“You’re leaving something that will be here for hundreds or thousands of years,” Nealis told Aeris.
Nealis said the trail fulfills the MCM’s mission of promoting physical fitness and community goodwill. Employees of the Commissary and the Marine Corps Exchange, as well as other members of the base community and the general public, are encouraged to walk or run the loop. The trail’s name, Semper Progrendi, means “always forward,” which Nealis said fits both MCB Quantico and the Marine Corps Marathon.
Amy Schramm, MCM events coordinator and the staff member who liaised with Aeris to build the trail, said the route was chosen to minimize the necessity of cutting down large trees and to stay to one side of a small stream. It’s currently a closed loop but she said MCM would love to expand it one day.
The loop passes through beech, yellow polar, hickory and oak trees. At the top of a small hill on the trail stands a white oak tree which turns out to officially be the second biggest white oak tree aboard base, with a diameter of 48 inches. (The largest is on the campus of Officer Candidates School.)
Access to the trail is behind Fowler Hall at 3399 Russell Road, Quantico, Virginia.