Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Like you mean it!

The Army supposedly has a rule that someone who's been deployed Down Range for a year can't be compelled to take an APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) for at least ninety days thereafter. Sounds reasonable to me. While I was Down Range, the OPTEMPO (operations tempo) was such that I was often busy all day, for many days in a row.

That made getting to the gym on a regular basis at a regular time pretty difficult. If not down-right impossible.

I took an APFT while I was deployed, in late November. By that time it was cooler during the early morning than it had been for most of the time I'd been over there. (In other words, it didn't reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit until after the sun had come up, rather than remaining over 100 all night long.)

I realized as I was doing the push-up portion of the test, and had already done more than the max for my age, that since the best I could do on the test was a "GO," given my permanent no-run profile (and thus the need to do an 'alternate event' like the 2.5-mile walk), that I wasn't really motivated to push myself to max the sit-ups, since it wouldn't 'count'. I'm not particularly proud of that attitude, but the way the Army has structured things, that's become my response.

I received a "GO" on that test, and am glad of it, but not proud of my effort.

I joined my new unit the day after my orders for Iraq ended, two days after they'd started their pre-mobilization training for this current deployment.

Imagine my surprise, then, given the 90-day thing I just mentioned, when I found out on a Saturday night at 2230 (10:30 p.m.)-- less than three weeks later -- that I was required to take a PT test the next morning at 0600. Since everyone else in the Headquarters Company was doing the test, I just went along with it, and 'soldiered-up' as they say.

I did, however, insist that it be counted 'for record', since if I were going to take it then, I didn't want to have to repeat it at some later date. The First Sergeant wasn't too pleased about that, but I insisted none the less.

I passed, though truth be told, I didn't really give it my all.

Yesterday we had to be up at the crack of dawn here at Fort Schoolhouse to go to PT with the Active Duty Soldiers who are here for the six-month course. (Ours is in two phases, as I explained a few days ago: the first part is on-line, and then we come here for two weeks.)

Because there's a new moon, it was pitch dark on the field when we showed up. It was actually a challenge to figure out which of the many groups of Soldiers doing PT was the one we were supposed to join, seeing as we'd not yet met any of the Active Duty folks.

I should have known, however, that the one gaggle of Soldiers (as opposed to the squared-away ranks of personnel) was the one we were destined to fall in on. (They were supposed to be in a circle, I figured, but it seemed more like an anemic amoeba.) Given my bad knees, bad ankle, and bad feet, and my permanent no-run profile from the Army, I found myself not over-exerting.

This was reinforced to me as I heard the Chaplain who was leading PT explain to us that we were to skip down to the big tree off in the distance, and then run, flat-out, back to the starting line, and then repeat the process a couple of times. My friend the Orthodox priest and I just walked the course.

As we started out, the Chaplain-in-Charge called out: "Skip!" Then he paused briefly and yelled, "Skip like you mean it!"

Ah. Chaplains. There's strong, and then there's Army Strong, I guess.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/23/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

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