Lynn Tech students will be warming the hearts of U.S. military personnel, first responders and civilians at the Tough Ruck, an event on Saturday that is affiliated with the Boston Marathon.
The students, under the direction of machine shop instructor Michael Pickering, are responsible for making the engraved, aluminum cannons that will be presented to the winners of the 26.2-mile Tough Ruck marathon during which participants carry a backpack along the entire course that is located in Concord, Massachusetts.
Michael Sweeney, director of veterans services for Lynn, will be one of the 1,000 ruckers in the event. Sweeney said that Tough Ruck is held in memory of fallen service members, police, firefighters, and EMTS while raising funds to support military families in need.
After viewing the meticulous craftsmanship of the cannons during an unveiling ceremony Monday at the school, Sweeney said he couldn’t be prouder of Mr. Pickering and the students for their ingenuity, teamwork, and support.
“You just can’t thank these students enough,” lauded Sweeney. “It’s great to see students get involved and supporting our military. It lets veterans know that the people do care, especially when you can involve young men and women such as these Tech students. Being from Lynn, it makes me really proud that Tech is part of this event. This is actually a national event and their product that they put all that time and effort in to is going to be front and center.”
Sweeney said that a retired general in the U.S. Army, will be presenting the Tech-manufactured cannons at a post-race awards ceremony.
Michael Pickering’s class of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, along with pre-engineering students, designed and produced the approximate five-pound cannons from their start to their finish.
“Everything was made from raw stock,” said Pickering.
The project began when Sarah Sweeney (Michael’s wife) of the Military Friends Foundation, approached Pickering after seeing the students’ work on display at a Skills USA “Welcome Home Project” event for veterans.
“Sarah said she’d like to have the cannons for the guys who do the Tough Ruck,” related Pickering. “Sarah paid for all the metals and we began working on it right away. It’s been over a month that we’ve been making parts for these cannons.”
Those who have seen Tech’s cannons describe them as impressive and a true work of art.
“It’s a beautiful piece,” agrees Pickering.
The teacher and the students say that they’re honored to do something so inspiring for the military personnel who serve and protect the United States.
“You can’t put a value on giving back to those men and women who put their lives on the line every day when they’re out there in the field,” said Pickering. “To be able to do something like this for them is amazing. The students know what this is all about and they’re more than happy to put the time in to it.”
Nathan Whitcomb, a sophomore swimmer and golfer at Tech, helped out with wheels of the cannons, a phase of the project that required special care and precise measurements.
“We all worked together and everything had to be exact,” said Whitcomb. “Today we helped polish and clean all the cannons. I’m honored to do this because they put their lives on the line. Making these cannons for them is a true honor.”
Andy Marrero, a sophomore, said he has been working for the past three weeks on the cannon’s wheels, along with some finishing touches the past few days.
“It was a very arduous task at times, but I got through it, and at the end of the day, like Mr. Pickering and Nathan said, it is an honor to do this for the men and women who put their lives on the line for us to be able to be here in such a beautiful country,” said Marrero, who was born in the Dominican Republic. “It’s an honor that they came to Lynn Tech and asked us to do such a project for them.”
Marrero added, “Mr. Pickering has guided me through this project every step of the way. He’s been making sure I did it right and I’m thankful for his instruction and expertise.”
And approximately 1,000 military families will be thankful to the Tech students for adding their brilliance to a very special day in Concord, where it all began in April, 1775.