A few days before this event, I came across something that would seem to fit as we all pushed through the event. The Alpha Gators, which is usually a very silly comic, posted this:
This sort of set the tone for me, and it came to mind often when I was under one of the weights.
My brain can go a bit fuzzy on long events (and this one went 14 hours), so this write-up will be some points that felt significant rather than a proper AAR.
Our team was moving with more coupons than I have ever seen carried at an event and 5 buckets of water. We couldn’t figure out quickly trading out people carrying, and the entire procession stopped every few minutes. Cadre Chuy stopped us and put our situation in perspective:
“You think the 50-60 pound sandbag you are carrying is heavy. Weighs a lot less than I do with all my gear. Think of carrying your buddy to the medivac point, wiping the sweat from your face and realizing you wiped his blood into your eyes. You feel your body start shaking, and you realize that it’s because his body is shaking, because he has lost so much blood that he is going hypothermic.
“Now are you going to keep feeling sorry for yourselves, or are you going to hurry the hell up and get to the HLZ?” You better believe we picked up the pace.
One of my biggest weaknesses at GORUCK events has always been that I don’t last as long under the weight before needing to pass it off to someone else. This time I had to keep pushing, because we had so many weights with various numbers of people carrying them that there was often no one to hand it off to.
For a movement just after daybreak, we were informed that we needed to keep a quick pace and stay in tight formation. I was paired with a young man doing his first event. When I handed off the sandbag to him, it caused a small gap in formation that we immediately picked up our pace to try to close. I could see he was pushing with everything he had, but could not catch up with the group in front of me.
“Hand it back.”
“No, no, I got it.”
“This is not a conversation, hand it back. You’re kicking butt out here, but I’ve been doing this a little longer.” It reminded me of earlier events where I couldn’t get past the “no I got it” to get someone to hand off their weight.
Our service action was cleaning the Vietnam Veterans Memorial so that it would look nice for Memorial Day visitors. While I had been aware of the escalation of the conflict over the years, it still struck me how suddenly the numbers of names listed under each year jumped from one to dozens to hundreds. It gave me a perspective that I had never really understood.
Rather than Cadre giving us our patches, we paired off and presented patches to each other, reinforcing that we were a team, YOU didn’t earn your patch, the person next to you earned it for you.
My wife and daughter were at the end point when we arrived. After we were patched I took a knee next to a tree because I needed to get the weight off of my feet, and I waved my wife over. She captured the moment in this photo:
then took the flag and helped me to the car.