It's just hours away before the trip of a lifetime for a Claiborne County U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
"These are all my clothes right here," Sgt. David McCollum (ret.) said as be began to dig around his orange knapsack Friday.
Monday, McCollum will begin a 500-mile journey from the East Tennessee Veteran's Memorial to the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. for an event he organized called "Ruck to Remember." He hopes to arrive at the nation's capitol on Memorial Day.
The Arkansas native and soon-to-be LMU graduate is used to these ventures. McCollum served two tours in Iraq.
"God forbid the first thing I'm going to do is roll my ankle on day one," he said.
Trips through the warzones are colloquially called "ruck marches," named for the rucksacks on the troops' backs.
McCollum admits this march will be different.
"I had the rare opportunity to prepare a whole month, three weeks of time to do something like this," he added.
He's organizing "Ruck to Remember" to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. It helps military members injured in the line of duty.
The organization hits home for McCollum.
"On my second mission, my best friend, who I served six years with lost both his legs on a convoy... so he's my inspiration," he said.
With the knowledge that fatigue or no shelter in mind, the USMC veteran knows it's still worth it.
"If you don't have a wounded veteran in your town or someone you work with, it's not something you think about every day," McCollum said.
The retired staff sergeant hopes to raise $20,000 through the walk from donations collected along the way.
McCollum will leave from the ECVM at 9:00 a.m. Monday.
For more information on donations or to check on McCollum's progress, visit the "Ruck to Remember" website.