May 06, 2011

Name: America's 1st Sgt.
Stationed in: Bahrain
Milblog: Castra Praetoria

In the Marine Corps we are immersed in a culture of physical fitness (among other things). I always say when Americans "send in the Marines!" they expect a certain product. This product not only includes a physical prowess defying a number of inviolate laws of physics and medicine but also a neat and professional appearance. It's a look easier to pull off when your shoulders are wider than your waist. Many regard physical training as a mandatory chore designed to lessen their quality of life just that much more. Some figure it doesn't pay to attack a hill if half way up you are noisily blowing chow all over your boots and can't employ the machine gun. Others have it in mind they will be more able to overcome the enemy if they make themselves bigger, faster, and stronger.

Here's the real reason we conduct physical training. Ready?

We are, in fact, making ourselves harder to kill. A healthy, well fed, fit human body is more capable of surviving and functioning while immersed in the various diseases, illnesses, infections, etc, one encounters in theater. Not to mention being able to survive combat wounds or just running down the block draped in 100 lbs of gear during the balmy desert summer. Bracing!

I was told a story once about an interview of Japanese POWs during WWII. The Japanese Imperial Army had thought they were fairly invincible and their defenses impregnable. They were asked at what point during the campaign they felt they might be in trouble. Turns out while machine gunning Marines down as they landed the Japanese noticed the wounded and dying still trying to advance and crawling forward despite their wounds. The Marines were coming. They were hard men to kill. 

I'm not suggesting a superior PT program won the war in the Pacific, but being hard to kill certainly is a force multiplier. In an effort to remain so I often encourage Marines to come workout with their 1stSgt in the afternoon. Workouts with America's 1stSgt have a reputation not only for being cruel and unusual but quite competitive as is our nature. For their part, Sailors in our vicinity want no part of what we are up to when it involves perspiration and demonic levels of physical pain.

We get paid for this!


In these photos we are gleefully destroying each other in a joy filled PT session. The name of this particular workout changes as it is named after whomever achieves the lowest score and is known as the "       " Challenge. This is a shame best avoided as it marks the namesake as the weakest member of the tribe. Each of us has 15 minutes to complete as many rounds as we can of:

3 Pull Ups (chest must touch the bar)
6 Chest Slapping Push Ups (hands must slap the chest while in the air)
9 Jumping Squats
The Challenge is the kind of workout which on the surface seems simple enough. Then about one minute and thirty seconds into the workout the victim realizes he has made a grievous mistake and has placed his mortal life in peril. On this occasion the stakes were particularly high as the current namesake openly challenged one of his peers to a head to head competition. Naturally, this brought all the meat eaters and we all part.
Nose to nose clapping push ups with a little encouragement from yours truly. 

As the workout progresses it becomes increasingly difficult to keep proper form. Chests miss the bar here and there and chest slapping push ups degenerate into clapping face plants. Awesome! 

Ugly but acceptable technique.

Although this appears to be the end of the workout, there are actually 10 minutes to go.

Flogging for one? This way sir.

The end of this particular Challenge was inconclusive as it resulted in a tie, with 15 rounds completed each. While others spent the day on the couch mashing bags of potato chips into their pie hole, FAST Company forged some ruggedness, tested a little character, and enjoyed the camaraderie. Sounds like a day seized to me.

Semper Fidelis!


"We are, in fact, making ourselves harder to kill. A healthy, well fed, fit human body is more capable of surviving and functioning while immersed in the various diseases, illnesses, infections, etc, one encounters in theater." I have only one change/addendum to that sentence - substitute "theater" with "life" and there you go. But you already know that, I know. I spent two very formative years of my life, the last two years of high school and the last two years of my dad's 30 years in, in a certain west coast town proud of and known for its UDTs, now SEALs and Team...well, you get the idea. I just want to say: Be monsters!!! For yourselves - for your teammates - for us. I doubt if I'm the only civilian who says "I like monsters." Stay safe and be well.

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