MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Early each morning aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., the sound of pounding footsteps and labored breathing can be heard for miles around as units conduct physical training.
On September 29, the Marines of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, were given a little extra motivation to perform that daily routine.
During a morning that consisted of pugil-stick matches between the Marines and performing the obstacle course, the Marines were told that whoever got the three fastest times for completing the course would get a 72-hour period of liberty.
“One reason we do something like this is to motivate the Marines and get some competition going,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Nicholson, commanding officer, Company I, 3/9. “It also gives the Marines the motivation to really work hard and put out that extra effort.”
The Marines were excited to try something different than the normal routine and also have the chance to compete.
“I appreciate the fact that if I’m actually competing and giving the extra effort, I’m going to get rewarded for it,” said Cpl. Nicholas Muszynski, rifleman, Company I. “I would really love to have that extra day off as well as doing something besides running for a work out.”
The event was part of the plan to get the Marines back into the routine of physical training. After their recent deployment to Afghanistan, they want to make sure that even with a break from being abroad, they’re still ready to ship out on future deployments.
“This puts the Marines through a lot of the stuff we did when we deployed,” said Nicholson. “You might be climbing over walls or in and out of [trenches], so training like this is important.”
The training also focused on one other event – the pugil sticks. In this event, Marines are given heavily padded sticks and paired off into groups to spar. The focus is to help the Marines with what they could be up against if faced with unarmed combat or wielding a weapon of opportunity.
“This type of training works on strength as well as agility,” said Nicholson. “Even though it can be fun for the Marines, it also gets them trained in some of the proper techniques.”
So while only three Marines will be selected to receive the benefits of a day off, the others will receive the benefit of training and the drive to better themselves so that next time, they may be the ones who come out on top.