"Good morning men".


"What are you?"


"How far?"


"What's the word?"


"What are you?"


So begins every morning of training. Onto the PT field we bring with us all of our gear - kevlar helmet, load bearing vest, ruck sack with weights, and weapon. We arrive at around 0500, after a half mile march from our quarters, and spend the next hour preparing our "pits" for the morning PT. We all place our gear in exactly the same fashion, with exactly the same spacing, taking great care to make sure everything is perfectly lined up and tucked away, so that the instructors soon to walk through our ranks will find nothing lacking. And then we wait in the dark and cold for them to come. The PT pit is filled with the finest fine grain Florida sand, a great place to roll around in. The sand gets everywhere, but that's not really a big deal after a few hours of PT. The cadre are very creative in our exersizes, every mistake they percieve turns into a new and creative effort to smoke us.

This past Friday was one to remember. We had our first instructor-led ruck march, alternating jogging (called the 'airborne shuffle') and marching for four miles. For the last mile, we showed the instructors our team's spirit. Our team's NCOIC, a prior service army airbone ranger with three combat jumps, led us in a few jodies, and we sounded off like we had a pair, our voices gone by the end of it, a giant "screw you" to the instructors, showing them that "you can't smoke us, we got more."

When we got back to our PT Pit morale was high.

"FRONT LEANING REST! MOVE!" Ordered the supervising instructor.

While we were in the up-pushup possition, the instructor educated us on the difficulty of the job we had volunteered for. "You think that being able to sound of an hour into PT says something? What you just went through isn't even a tenth of the effort you are going to need to put out to do this job." Then we did exercises for a while, I can't really remember for how long or what we did. His instruction continued, "You will be called on to do this job only when things are falling apart, when people are dying. Some of you thought you'd come down here and only do this job in the fun and sun of Florida, came down here for spring break? If you wanted a spring break you should have stayed home with those hippy college pussies you went to school with!" He then ordered us to put our gear on and form up on the road outside our pits.

Then he ran. It wasn't a jog, or a easy pace, he took off. And he kept going. Half of us fell behind after a mile or so. Then we found ourselves formed up in thigh-deep swamp water and mud, tall grass up to our chests, looking at our instructors wondering what they had in store for us.


My nose centimeters away from the freezing cold water the rest of my body was submerged in, the cadre further educated us on the perils and hardship we should expect to find ourselves in very shortly. We did pushups, dipping our faces into the water. We flipped around and did fultter kicks untill we couldn't feel any part of our bodies, all the while being told how uncomfortable we were going to be.


We dragged our numb limbs as best we could through the sinking, grabbing mud and grass, and then ran back to our possitions in the swamp.

"NOT FAST ENOUGH! Some of you thought you could walk back here while your buddies were already in possition with their faces in the mud. DO IT AGAIN!"

And so we did. Some of us were looking like death at this point, others including myself were beginning to feel a unfathumable comedy in it, smiling at each other as we dragged and pulled and grunted. After some more exercises in the swamp, we formed up back on the road. And again he took off. Our uniforms were soaked and caked with mud, easily adding another 8kgs to the weight on our legs, which were completely without feeling. As we ran, we couldn't tell if we were tierd or our limbs were even attached.

The sun was coming up in front of our formation as we ran, light gleaming off of the helmets and shooting through the streams of water dripping off of the men in front of me, steam floating off of their bodies. Half of the team was behind me, half in front. I saw our PT pit in the distance and decided that I wanted to be here more than anything. I sprinted. Just as I reached the front group, an instructor put his hand up behind my back and said "stop here".

Those behind me continued to run. The rest of us got back into our pits, pulled our dry PT uniform out of our ruck sacks and attempted to change clothes. You could hear the teeth chattering and the knees smacking together. As i finished changing myself, I went to help the other guys. The Load bearing vest was clipped together at the front, and I found it hilarous that my fingers would not move to grip the clasps on my buddy's gear. An instructor walked over and asked what about this is funny. If I thought this was a game.


Then we grabbed the logs and ran a couple more miles.


Image credits to http://www2.hurlburt.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123238914