Thursday, June 30, 2011

Almost there

From Mel:
Not many more steps now until we arrive in Mandaree. Until we have access to internet once again I can share just a few things.

Over the weekend we were hosted by several families and would like to thank the Simmers, Mehrers, and Baumann families for all of their hospitality. The National Guard in Bismarck also hosted a picnic for us which was wonderful. We appreciate everything our hosts have done for us.

Day 12 we arrived in Hazen and were met by Patriot Guard from Bismarck. We were hosted 2 nights by the Johnson family (thank you!)

Day 13 we were escorted out by a Hazen fire truck and friends. That evening we were welcomed into Beulah with a picnic by the extended Goodiron family. We were also treated to rooms at the hotel (kids+pool=happy!) by the generosity of the O'Berry family. The Beulah Beacon had a great front page story about the march.

Day 14 puts us in Kildeer and ready to march into Mandaree tomorrow. We will be joined in the last 4 miles by any man, woman, and child that wants to participate. We have been in such good hands and we can't wait to be there!
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

March to Mandaree day 9 & 10

Day 9 March to the Capitol

March to Mandaree day 9March to Mandaree day 9March to Mandaree day 9March to Mandaree day 9

Day 10 Graveside Service for Mehrer and Van Zoest

March to Mandaree day 10March to Mandaree day 10March to Mandaree day 10March to Mandaree day 10March to Mandaree day 10

More photos of these and all the days are available by clicking HERE.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

March to Mandaree days 5 thru 8

From Mel;

Days 5 and 6 were cold and rainy.  That kept us from taking too many pictures, but the guys went out each morning and endured.  Tuesday (6/21) Nathan Kemp joined Steve and Arnold for the march despite the rain.  We decided to stay at Jamestown RV park rather than move the whole camp ahead.  We chose to do the same Wednesday.  This was the first time our kids have spent any time in Jamestown other than passing through, so we made sure they got to see the world’s largest buffalo.


By Thursday, the clouds parted and we saw some sun!  DSC_0217DSC_0196 DSC_0220

The photos I’ve pulled from the cameras this week are amazing.  I am keeping a gallery HERE that I will update as time (and internet service) allows. 


We’ve kept on schedule, getting started each day around 4:30 or 5 am and usually finishing by lunch time.  Thursday night we camped in Hazelton and we reached Bismarck by Friday afternoon.  The Goodiron Family met us to escort us in, and members of the Mehrer family marched in the last 5 miles. 

DSC_0265 IMG_8702

Due to flooding we are NOT camping in General Sibley park, but at the Bismarck KOA, where we will spend the next 3 nights.  We plan to march from the armory to the capitol at 9 am Saturday morning.  There is also scheduled to be a graveside service for Mehrer and Van Zoest in the Veteran’s Cemetery at 12:30 pm Sunday. 

We are so grateful for the welcome into Bismarck and look forward to meeting up with everyone before we move on Monday morning.  Thank you to all the families who have offered meals while we are here, we appreciate it so much!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Week one almost done

From Mel:
We are coming up on the end of week one on this march. Until we are back in the land of internet, my phone will have to do. The guys are starting out around 4:30-5:00 am each morning to escape marching in the heat of the day, although the last few ended up rainy. We are usually done marching in the early afternoon but we have decided it is in everyone's best health interests to stick to the itinerary as it is ( and not try to add in extra miles.
This afternoon we arrive in Bismarck! I will post a better update later tonight.
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 3 and 4

As I mentioned before, the Patriot Guard came to Enderlin early on the morning of the 19th to escort us out of town.  Among four marchers, the burden was a lighter one and they finished in good time.  We spent the remainder of the day saddling up for our stay in Little Yellowstone park. 

March to Mandaree Day 3

Our daughter, Piper, got to have a little birthday celebration at our campsite! Piper turns 5

Steve and Arnold were up at 4am and ready to tackle day 4 with enthusiasm.  They split the miles between them and at the end of today we are still on schedule.  When we have enough walkers, we are considering trying to get ahead of schedule if the day allows.

Little Yellowstone

One change we will be making to June 21 in that we will stay a second night in Jamestown RV Park and NOT in Gackle, ND as we originally planned.  If you are interested in marching with us please contact us so we can coordinate with you!  Our full itinerary is HERE.

If you can’t participate in person, your support in this march is always appreciated.  Just click the “Donate” button on the sidebar to help us with our expenses!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A quick morning post

The ND Patriot Guard rode out to escort our marchers out of Enderlin this morning.  We were joined for today by Ron Martel, Jr. and Nicole Beston-Martel who came from Mandaree to walk.


Our marchers today (L to R) Nicole, Arnold, Steve, and Ron

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 1 and 2

From Mel:

We are off!  We started in Wahpeton and in two days we have arrived in Enderlin.  Our first day started out a bit rocky with some rain, but soon it cleared and the past two days have been great.  Steve was joined by Arnold Lenoir from White Earth who plans to walk with us the entire way.  The White Earth veteran color guard came to start us off as well as some of the Goodiron family. Two news crews came out to film, and several papers published small blurbs about the march.IMG_8432IMG_8438IMG_8426IMG_8436

Day one ended around 5pm with 38 miles behind us, a majority of those walked between Steve and Arnold (I got to finish off leg #3!).  Our oldest two, Aria and Max, walked one mile with me as well.


Day two was an early start with both Steve and Arnold walking their leg of the journey at about 5:30 am, I finished after lunch and we had the afternoon to nurse tired muscles and tend to any blisters. 


We are all in good spirits and are excited to meet those who will be joining us as in the days ahead!

Friday, June 17, 2011

March to Mandaree: Day 1



There are 1.3 million steps from here to Mandaree and to remembrance and healing.  Today I take the first.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Call for Support

This is the letter we are sending out to local businesses.  If you know of a local business that would be interested in participating, please feel free to copy and paste this letter and hand it out!

Dear Local Business,

    My name is Steven Fraase, I am a member of the North Dakota National Guard.  I want to tell you about an upcoming event called March to Mandaree and an opportunity for you to help us out.  During our unit’s tour in Afghanistan 2005-2007 we lost 4 soldiers.  I, and others in the service, will be honoring these fallen soldiers and their families with a 412 mile walk across North Dakota.  The walk begins with services in Grand Forks and Wahpeton, the home town and burial site of Chris Kleinwatcher, then will continue through the state to Bismarck, the homes of Curtis Meher and Travis Van Zoest, and end up in Mandaree, the home of Nathan Goodiron.  Those participating will be marching “legs” of the journey from 10-30 miles each day for two weeks starting June 17th and ending July 3rd.  These dates may change due to the flooding in Bismarck and the active duty of many of the participants. 

    We are asking for the help of local businesses along the way to support these soldiers during their walk.  In return for your generosity, we will gladly announce your business name on our blog ( as well as on our Facebook page (currently over 1280 followers).  Larger donations will be given space on a banner that will travel with the marchers along the highway and be displayed at each campsite.  Our full Itinerary is online at   You can contact us via email at  We also are glad to accept monetary donations.

    We appreciate your time and help!

God Bless,
Steven Fraase

Items Needed for March to Mandaree:

Gear:  Insect Repellent, High SPF Sunblock, lip balm, foam coolers, sports socks, Body Glide, first aid kit, large sized bandages, sports tape, plastic rain ponchos, grilling charcoal or wood, aluminum foil, PORTABLE TOILET, fuel gift cards, paper plates, foam cups, napkins, plastic utensils, reusable drinking containers, sporting goods gift cards (I.e. Scheels, Cabella’s etc), containers for ice, hand or baby wipes, sanitizing wipes, antibacterial soap

Food (we may feed 20-50 participants each day for 2 weeks):  bottled water, sports drinks, grilling meat (hotdogs, hamburger, steak, brats, chicken), side dishes, bags of ice, protein bars, cereal bars, buns, bread, condiments, peanut butter, jelly, sandwich meat, fruit (fresh or canned), vegetables (fresh or canned), cooking oil, coffee, drink mixes

Along with this we can now receive donations right here on the side bar.  Just click the “DONATE” button.  You can send any amount you wish, and believe us, anything helps!

We are also looking for those participant who may not not be able to walk, but could provide a cold salad or other meal item along the stops.  We need additional chase vehicle drivers as well.  Please email us if you can help out!!

The first order of T-shirts is going to be submitted today, but we will do one more order soon, those shirts may not be available at the start of the March, probably by the second week.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


We will start taking orders for T-shirts today!!  If you would like to purchase a T-shirt, they are $17 for any size.  Money above the cost of the t-shirts will go toward funding the March to Mandaree (fuel, food and drink for marchers, first aid items, camp site fees, etc. ) any funds we receive that do not get used during the march will be donated to a Veteran’s charity.

m2m t shirt

The front reads “March to Mandaree 2011”.  The back reads “OEF Afghanistan  188th ADA 2005-2007  ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ I said, ‘Here am I, send me!’ Isaiah 6:8  Travis Van Zoest  Curtis Mehrer   Chris Kleinwachter  Nathan Goodiron”

We will be placing the order on Friday 6/10/11.  Please contact us for PayPal or other payment information at marchtomandaree[at]

Monday, June 6, 2011

Postponement and Possibilities

As you may have heard, many of the ND National Guard members have been activated to help with the flood fight in the Bismarck/Mandan area.  No one really knows how mother nature will act, so we have to roll with what we’re given.  We will try our hardest to stay true to the schedule, but we won’t know exactly what lies ahead for the March.  Right now we hope to march the second week ON TIME and as scheduled, and make up the first week sometime this summer.  The following is a letter from Paul Goodiron:

413 Mile March to Mandaree

An event meticulously planned almost a year ago to honor 4 soldiers who died in action will have to be postponed. Mr. Steve Fraase and other soldiers took great care and training preparing for this long journey. However circumstances far beyond their control or conceived altered this trek.

Mother Nature stepped in causing State-wide flooding that North Dakota State Guard soldiers were activated to help fight this. It was assumed that a short-term activation would solved the issue but this will be extended into next month at the least. Soldiers involved in the "March to Mandaree" schedules changed and are now unable to complete what they had planned within the planned time frame.

The first part of July was the beginning of the NDNG training in other military exercises which too are now changed. This impacts upon what "free time" is now available in the remaining summer days. An option considered is the March to Mandaree is completed in "legs" or "sections" of the walk in light of all the soldiers involved personal time off.  This is/was an agonizing decision to make that maybe a portion of the walk will take place in August or September weather permitting.

To exacerbate this March is the closing of highway 22 which is parallel to Mandaree.  Which not only is causing transportation problems for oil field companies with oil exploration schedules. The closure of highway 22 will occur during the entire summer months for rebuilding. This impacts on the route of the March that it may force the walk to arrive via Garrison, Parshall, New Town, and finally Mandaree. This route too is heavily traveled by oil field vehicles.