Jason McCarthy had an entirely different life in the private sector until September 11 changed everything for him.
“I was in the US Army from 2003 to 2008," McCarthy says. "I did some times in special forces as a green beret.”
McCarthy says he joined specifically because of the terror attacks at the World Trade Center.
He was a soldier fighting on the front lines against terrorism, an entirely different style of battle than what happened June 6, 1944.
“The wars that I fought were not like that at all," he said.
"They were on a boat, and when they get there it’s time to get off the boat and storm machine gun nests. It’s crazy.”
McCarthy has traveled to Normandy before to pay his respects.
“Yeah, I mean I just got goosebumps, right? The idea of Operation Overlord being as big as it was, it just involved men going in to storm the beaches. That’s not how we fight anymore.”
Now, he's back in the private sector and the founder of a company called Go Ruck in Jacksonville Beach.
Among a million other things, they make specialized packs for rucking.
“As a way to honor what D-Day and Normandy, we go back and run some Go Ruck events (in Normandy)," he said.
"We ruck the battlefield... which is how they stormed the beaches by the way.”
When the crew goes to Normandy, they'll be loaded down with weighted backpacks called rucksacks.
Then they'll hike miles down the various beaches of D-Day, stopping at historical sites along the way.
“I mean it’s emotionally taxing to go and experience things like this, but it’s worth it.”
Jeannie Blaylock and Lewis Turner will be following along as they Ruck the Beach from Normandy, bringing you live reports all week on First Coast News.