HOUSTON – Sweat pours, breaths are heavy, muscles are weak as
young men and women push themselves to their limits as they train to
become the next generation of elite sailors in Naval Special
Warfare/Naval Special Operations/Aviation Rescue Swimmers programs.
Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Conner Mastry, Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Jacob Alvarado and retired Navy SEAL Master Chief Marc Presson, all attached to Navy Recruiting District Houston, give instructions prior to a timed swim in a physical screening test for Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations candidates Aug. 13,
2013 in Houston. Mastry, Alvarado and Presson are scouts and mentors for NRD Houston's NSW/NSO program who prepare candidates for the mental and physical rigors of their journey to becoming Navy SEALs, Aviation Rescue Swimmers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman and Navy Divers. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jacob L. Dillon, Navy Recruiting District Houston Public Affairs)
Navy NSW/NSO/AIRR program mentors, coordinators, and
scouts, attached to Navy Recruiting District Houston,
recently conducted a weekly physical screening test of
NSW/NSO/AIRR candidates Aug. 13, 2013 in Houston.
physical screening test is a rigorous mental and physical
fitness test designed to gauge where the candidates are as
they prepare to begin their careers as Navy SEALs, Aviation
Rescue Swimmers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians,
Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman and Navy Divers. The
demanding test consists of a 500-yard swim, pushups, situps,
pullups and a 1.5-mile run.
“These programs are very
difficult,” said retired Navy SEAL Master Chief Marc Presson,
who has more than 30 years of experience in the NSW/NSO/AIRR
Presson said the training and the physical
screening tests are paramount in the success of all the
“Be on your game all of the time, this is
where it starts,” he said. “Train here [organized training
sessions], train on your own time, if you put in the hard
work it will pay off in the end. The opportunities are
For many of these candidates these programs
offer excitement and a chance to do something very few in
the Navy do.
“EOD looks exciting, and it has
everything I've wanted in a job,” said Kevin Herzog, a
Montgomery, Texas, native. “Everybody hears about the SEALs.
So I did my research in the different NSW/NSO/AIRR programs
and found EOD, which interested me the most. Joining the
Navy has been a dream of mine, and now I will get to help my
country and protect liberty and freedom around the world.”
As for Garret Grissom, a Conroe, Texas, native, he
has always known what he wanted to do: become a Navy SEAL.
“When I was 12 years old, I met my friend's uncle who
was a retired SEAL,” Grissom said. “I walked into his office
and saw a paddle with a SEAL Trident stamped into it. He
began telling me his stories, and my interests were piqued.
Since that day, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
Though these candidates know what they want to do, they
sometimes struggle said Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Conner
Mastry, the Navy's 2012 NSW/NSO/AIRR Recruiter of the Year.
“Each individual's struggles are different,” said Mastry.
“Some struggle with the swim, some the run, some it is their
diet, some it is maturity, it is all about their discipline
hour-to-hour, day-to-day. These candidates need to want it,
it won't be easy and they all must be well-rounded. It is my
job to talk to them and tell them every day to stay
motivated. I need to be their mentor.”
and Grissom said it all comes down to motivation.
“Training every day is the hardest part,” said Herzog.
“Every day you got to put in the miles, the strokes, the
pushups, situps, and pullups. I have to stay motivated to
achieve my dream. As the training progresses, I make
Grissom said, “I am not the best
runner, but I have definitely improved from where I started.
I just need to keep training, keep it up and stay
All of the training and physical and
mental tests will pay off Mastry told the candidates.
“These are the best programs in the military,” Mastry
said. “Here is your unique opportunity to do something
spectacular. Don't quit, don't be weak, be strong.”
By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jacob Dillon
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