Military stories from past to present, both wars.

"Where’s the Beef??"

December 16th, 2006 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

The Marine Corps has many fine traditions that they can point back to the early days and say, “That program really sets us apart from the other services.” A lot of the time, there may be some ancestor worship going on that just hasn’t changed because that’s “the way we always done it.” Take for example the P.F.T. (physical fitness test) that active duty Marines must complete twice a year and once for us Reservists. You are required to run three miles; max time is 18 minutes and to fail it, depending on your age, is around 27 minutes. You can score a hundred points for this event. Then, they make you climb up on a pull-up bar and going from a dead hang, you pull yourself up. Max is 20 for five points each and minimum is three. Followed by crunches (sit-ups), max 100 in two minutes and minimum of forty.

In the “Old” days, the run never bothered me, as I was in good shape and a former cross country guy who could turn his mind off and just run like Forest Gump. The pull ups didn’t faze me much either because I could knock out twenty in a heartbeat using the “kip” technique where you sway your body, and in a snake-like motion, use the momentum to hurl your body back up over the bar. The Corps figured out that this was sort of cheating the system and outlawed the “kip” in the mid-90s, but it was a good thing when we had it…

The sit-ups in the old days were a breeze too, if you just did one sit-up every two seconds then at the end you could pace yourself, and knock out the rest before the two minutes were up. Put all this together and you would have a pretty decent score for your fitness report that year.

Well, going from running three to six miles a day when I was 29 to walking three a day at 41 is a big life change. Of course I’m a procrastinator who likes to wait till the last minute to get something done, and pushed off doing my PFT till Sunday, the last day this year we could run it. The days prior to Sunday, were, oh, around twenty-two degrees each early a.m. and didn’t warm up to fifty till around the afternoon. I couldn’t figure out why we were having our PFT at 0800 in the morning but figured that next year I would be smarter and run it in October or November when Texas weather is really pleasant.

That prior Saturday night was also our Officer’s Christmas party, and I tied on a good one with the wine, rum and beer. That helped the next day because it made me not even care how cold it was. The Lord was watching over us, as Sunday arrived and a warm front from the South moved in making the temperature at 0800 a lovely forty-five degrees, but with a stiff wind from the South. That gave us a tailwind going out to the mile and a half point and a head wind coming home. So the best bet was to find a big guy and use him as a wind block and draft the whole way back (thanks RonJon for being my windblock)

What bothers me is that the Marine Corps should change this test to reflect today’s situations. I’m proud to say that I ran 24 minutes for three miles (good for an old reservist) but where is the true test for our Marines? This test was put together by a bunch of skinny, office pencil-pushing geeks who liked to run at lunch, and decided that the whole Corps should be like them. Here is where common sense is not coming into play. We punish Marines who are all bulked out from lifting weights for being over weight by these 1950 standards and charts. Do you think our Marines are running a 5K in Iraq with all their gear on? No, of course not!! They run in short bursts from house to house with tons of gear and loaded for bear. If I was in a grunt unit, I’d want the biggest, meanest, son of a gun toting the M-60 next to me and laying down some serious covering fire on the bad guys and able to carry thirty pounds of extra ammo with him. Instead, they are punishing those big guys with bad fitreps and eventually running them out of the Corps if they can’t get their weight down or achieve faster run times. Face it, big heavy muscle guys can’t run like the wind.

Now, of course I’m going to offend all the skinny “I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in two hours and twenty minutes” types, but I say let’s change the test. Let’s turn our Marines into these giant WWF-looking types who can bench press four hundred pounds and could not only throw your wounded butt over his shoulder, but could return fire as well. I want to see the Army match that!!! I say “Where’s the Beef??”
Oh well, I’m dreaming about when I take over as dictator again… until that time, I have to go for a walk, take care and talk to you soon.
Semper Fi,