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.
The 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 programs.
Presson said the training and the physical screening tests are paramount in the success of all the candidates.
“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 endless.”
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.”
Both Herzog 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 improvements.”
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 motivated.”
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
Provided through DVIDS
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