Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Troop A Soldiers Do the Heavy Lifting at Patrol Base Assassin

Staff Sgt. Jimmy Cameron, from Rayford, N.C., a section sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, lifts an all terrain vehicle at Patrol Base Assassin, Jan.19. As part of Troop A’s power-lifting team, Cameron has been using equipment from around the patrol base to increase his strength because of the limited amount of work out equipment there.

By Spc. Ben Hutto
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Using heavy chains, Humvees and a makeshift weight set purchased with their own money, four non-commissioned officers assigned to Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, are proving that “Army Strong” is not just a catchy motto to attract new recruits.

Day in and day out, members of the Combat Outpost Assassin power-lifting team make the time to go to the gym they constructed from the ground up.

“We’ve had to come in here at three or four in the morning to work out because of our mission schedules,” said Sgt. Brandon Sayles, from Hilo, Hawaii, a squad leader in Troop A. “We wake each other up to make sure we get our work out in. It has become an important part of what we do out here and nobody has a problem with it.”

Lack of sleep is just one of the obstacles that the group overcame to become, in their minds, the strongest Soldiers in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

During the summer, 1st Platoon, Troop A constructed a weight room to accommodate Soldiers, including the team.

“They needed a place to work out because it was getting hot during the summer so we built this place,” said Sgt. 1st Class Lockett, from Huntsville, Ala., the platoon sergeant for 1st platoon, Troop A. “We bought the air conditioner and the heater for it with our own money…Soldiers bought a lot of the weights back at (Fort) Benning and had them shipped out here. They built their own squat rack. A lot of these weights we scavenged from various places. When you add the cost of the mirror and the stereo in here, we’ve spent about 1,500 dollars to have this place.”

Despite the cost, members of team still feel they need more. Sayles pointed out that in many cases they are limited in what they can do because they only have a certain number of plates.

“We don’t have the nice weight room and all the equipment they have back at (FOB) Hammer,” said Staff Sgt. Jay Doran, from Orlando, Fla., the mortar section sergeant for 2nd Platoon. “So we have to use other things to get strong.”

Some of the unorthodox training methods the team employs to train include lifting towing chains to work out their back and shoulders, pushing up-armored Humvees to strengthen their legs and picking up the ATVs used by the mechanics to strengthen their back and legs.

“It’s all a competition,” Doran said. “It’s friendly competition between all of us. We try and hang with one another and out do the guy that lifts before us. We know all the Soldiers back at Hammer have nice equipment and a better diet, so we have to work twice as hard to stay with them.”

The team competed in FOB Hammer’s strongman competition last November and finished first, besting the other teams competing against them in bench press, farmer’s carry, dead-lift and Humvee-pushing events.

“We don’t get to compete in a lot of events like this due to missions,” Doran said. “When we hear about a dead lift competition and we can’t compete, it’s frustrating. We found out what the winning weight was and the next day all of us dead-lifted it just to prove that we all could have won that.”

The club has been responsible for helping motivate the Soldiers of Troop A, said Lockett.

“These guys have implemented a workout plan for 60 percent of the troop,” he said. “I would say that 60 guys out of our 80-man troop work out because of the example these guys set. They are real motivators.”

The Soldiers in the club have other reasons to continue working out at odd hours in the morning.

“It’s a stress reliever,” said Staff Sgt. Jimmy Cameron, from Rayford, N.C., a section sergeant for 2nd Platoon. “There are days that I come in here to work out after a ten-hour mission. It’s just a way to get through the day. You get to a point where you need it to relax.”

Doran agreed with Cameron’s assessment.

“If one of us is having a bad day, we can always come here and work out with one another,” he said. “We pick each other up. When we start working out, we feed off one another.”

Sayles said that the make-shift gym has become a refuge for him.

“I really don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have it,” he said. “The deployment would go by so slow if I couldn’t work out. This place is a motivator. It gives Soldiers something to do. A lot of young guys get hung up on the internet and the phones and really just make themselves miserable because they wind up missing home so much. This place gives them something to do and helps them better themselves.”

For Doran, the club was a bonding experience for him. Having just transfered from the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, the club was a way for him to meet Soldiers with similar interest.

“Working out with guys like these builds camaraderie,” he said. “I’ve only known these guys about three months, but I’m as close with them as anyone. Working out with them goes way beyond work; it has become a friendship.”

The 3-1 Cav. Regt. and 1-15 Inf. Regt. are assigned to the 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and have been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March, 2007.

1 comment:

brendarella23 said...

GO BRANDON! Thank you for representing Hawaii...We miss U so much and we're counting the days till U get home. Thanks to all the troops and their families for their sacrifices. We support you ALL THE WAY!! Much Love and Aloha, Brandon's Auntie Brenda *;0)