Airman Marches, Low-Crawls And Sweats Her Way Into History
(January 25, 2011)
|BAGHDAD (1/19-21/2011 - AFNS) -- PART TWO|
The grueling day
begins ... The alarm rang and the clock read 2 a.m. Senior
Airman Courtney Beard got out of bed and readied herself for
the day's events.
As her wristwatch showed 2:30
a.m., the intelligence analyst with the 467th Expeditionary
Intelligence Squadron was now gathered with her Spur Ride
team outside the motor pool at Camp Victory, Iraq. The team
waited patiently, wearing their body armor and helmet. The
Spur Ride could begin at any moment.
"Standing around waiting for everything to begin was
torture," Airman Beard said.
Senior Airman Courtney Beard low-crawls through a mud pit Nov. 21, 2010, at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native was the first female Airman to complete the 18-hour Spur Ride, a series of mental and physical tests, held by the III Corps, Task Force Phantom. Airman Beard is a 467th Expeditionary Intelligence Squadron intelligence analyst. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Kelly K. Morehouse)
||At 3 a.m., a
group of first sergeants walked up and instructed
them to gather their gear and proceed to the pad.
Once they were herded toward the pad, the
calisthenics began. For the next 90 minutes, the
group of 73 participants did jumping jacks, ran in
place while holding their rifles over their heads,
sit-ups and push-ups.
"They smoked us for
about an hour and a half," Airman Beard said.
Now it was time to pack their rucksacks. This
was a difficult task by itself. The rucksacks were
located 100 yards from the pad and they had to pack
each item one by one; low-crawling, duck-walking or
lunging back to the pad between each item. At this
time, the participants were given a chance to fall
out and enjoy a delicious treat.
during this time that the sergeant major was going
around with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts," she said.
"He kept putting them in our face and telling us we
could have a donut and some coffee if we quit now."
After some more running, each team had to fully
inspect their military vehicle before pushing it
around the motor pool. But of course, it wasn't as
easy as they thought it would be.
"The first sergeants enjoyed making it harder for us by
standing on top of the hood and jumping up and down to put
more weight on it," Airman Beard said.
station began at the bottom of communication hill at Camp
Liberty, Iraq. The task was simple; run up and down the hill
as a team within 5 minutes and 30 seconds. If the team
didn't succeed, they had to do it again, but had an extra
minute to complete the run.
"We did not succeed as a
team on either of the first two tries," she said.
However, they were given a third chance to complete the run
and move onto the next stage. This time it was based on each
participant's individual time but with some added
"I was already exhausted from running up
the hill twice, and the third time seemed like it would be
impossible to complete," Airman Beard said. "And, of course,
it was at this time that they made us put on our gas mask
and run up the hill that way."
People started passing
out and hitting the ground. As medics tended to the fallen,
those still standing moved on to the obstacle course. The
obstacle course consisted of climbing over high walls,
maneuvering across wooden planks, and low-crawling through
mud and under barbed wire.
In addition, they had to
do more push-ups, flutters kicks, mountain climbers and
jumping jacks in the dirt as well as demonstrating proper
room-clearing procedures. They had to complete the course
three separate times, low-crawling, duck-walking or lunging
back to the beginning.
Completely soaked in muddy
water, the participants proceeded to the next station. They
had competed against their own minds and bodies all day. Now
it was time to go against others.
"We had to see who
could fill the most sandbags and carry them to a location
about 100 yards away," Airman Beard said.
station required even more teamwork. One person lead the
entire team through a pitch black building after getting a
quick glance at the route on a map.
"They had about
five seconds to look at the map," she said. "Communication
was very important during this portion in order for everyone
following the leader to know what was ahead of them
including stairs and turns."
The teams then had to
clear the Ba'ath Party House and march to the range for
another competition. The objective was to obtain the best
score by shooting targets in the kneeling, prone and
"While each of our team members
shot, the rest of us had to stay in the front leaning rest
position," she said. "We also had to do push-ups as
Now it was break time, for the first
sergeants at least. As they pulled out their lunches, the
participants had to don their gas masks again and march a
mile and a half to the abandoned Victory Over America
Palace, which was used by Saddam Hussein. Once they got
there, they were allowed to remove their gas mask, but had
to clear the palace.
"Soon after that, we heard 'gas,
gas, gas' and had to put our gas masks on again," Airman
Beard said. "This was the first time in 14 hours I was
pulled out of my world of feeling good."
once again marching to another palace near sniper hill on
Camp Slayer, which was another mile and a half away.
"They tried to get in our heads," she said. "They told us it
was going to be another 4-mile march. It sure did work on
Part One | Part Three
By USAF SSgt. R. Michael Longoria|
9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force - Iraq Public Affairs
Air Force News
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