LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As the sun set and the orange full moon rose over the Afghan mountains, the number of people gathered at the gym slowly increased as they waited to see the first female join the ‘1,000 lb. Club,’ at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, April 26.
U.S. Army Pfc. Dannesha Jones, a native of Lake Elsinore, Calif., has been lifting weights since the age of 16. When she saw the ‘1,000 lb. Club,’ flyer up, the competitor inside wanted her to take part. She stopped weightlifting for a while and recently got back into the sport because she realized how much she loved it.
Jones and the rest of team serve as “Guardian Angels” at FOB Gamberi and have been in Afghanistan for almost seven months. She and her squad of military police officers are assigned to 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
“When we first arrived at FOB Gamberi, Sgt. 1st Class Crossman took part in the ‘1,000 lb. Club,’ said Jones. “I wondered if female soldiers could do it or if they had a different standard set for us.”
Once she found out there was a competition for females, Jones said, “I’m definitely doing it.”
Kenneth Longmire is a Morale, Welfare and Recreation, coordinator, and is always looking to host activities so soldiers and civilians can have something fun to do on FOB Gamberi. Longmire is a Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, Fluor Corporation employee and created the FOB Gamberi ‘1,000 lb. Club,’ challenge. It is divided into three categories based on weight class and requires the participants to lift a total of 1,000 pounds. Every contestant has to reach that figure by combining their individual weight lifted in the squat, bench press, dead lift.
When he started the ‘1,000 lb. Club’ challenge, Longmire didn’t think females would want to take part, until he met Jones.
“I always see her working out at the gym,” said Longmire. “She is one of the top female weight lifters I have ever seen, and I’ve been doing this for eight years.”
The ‘1,000 lb. Club’ challenge is set up to motivate others to improve their physical fitness. Another military police officer who has earned the bragging rights of being in the club is Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Crossman, assigned to the 543rd MP Company, 91st Bn, 16th MP Bde.
“I encourage the soldiers to compete in weight lifting, I want them to be physically strong,” said Crossman, also the Guardian Angels, noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
In his opinion, Crossman said the ‘Guardian Angel’ job requires Soldiers to be strong and able to respond to an incident or attack at any time. Crossman currently holds the FOB record in the three combined weight categories. Adding that even though his unit is not a part of 1st Cav. Div., or with the 101st Airborne Division he hopes to compete with them and anybody else on FOB Gamberi.
Crossman, a native of Hancock, N.Y., called Jones “a phenom,” and said he has never met another female soldier as strong as her.
“I’ve been practicing, preparing to compete, and today I accomplished lifting, altogether, 800 pounds,” said Jones. “I’m going to keep training and hopefully reach 1,000 pounds before I leave Afghanistan.”
The crowd went wild after Jones reached her goal, congratulating her and shaking her hand. Following her accomplishment, Longmire presented her with a certificate of achievement. She held it proudly standing in the center of her squad as they took a group picture for posterity.
“I implemented the “600 lb. Club” so Jones can participate and still have it be competitive,” Longmire said. “As you can see, she surpassed the 600 pound mark and got close to 1,000.”
When Jones surpassed her goal to lift 600 pounds, and reached 800, it motivated another soldier enough to take part and become the third member in her squad to join the ‘1,000 lb. Club’.
Her supervisor, Spc. Ryan Stinson, took all the steps to reach that goal at the gym. He serves as a military police officer, also assigned to the 543rd MP Co. 91st Bn, 16th MP Bde.
“I saw my soldier, Jones, join the 600 pound club and she excelled and did 800 pounds,” said Stinson. “I thought since my soldier did it, I should try it too.”
The twenty-three year old, and native of Charlotte, N.C., said he has been lifting weights since he was in high school. The rest of his squad was there to show support and witness Jones reach the milestone.
“She is the first female here to do it on the FOB, I’m very proud of her,” said Stinson.
After he reached the goal, he became the second male and third in his nine soldier squad to say they have joined the ‘1,000 lb. Club’. Stinson said before he redeploys to Fort Drum, he would like everyone in his squad to be able to do it.
“I feel that if more and more people do it, it shows that it is not something impossible,” said Stinson. “It could be done if you just try.”
A large attendance of civilians and soldiers’ senior leadership showed up to show their support. Longmire said the event proved to be very successful and hoped more people men and women would be motivated and want to join “the club.”
||CHARLOTTE, NC, US
||LAKE ELSINORE, CA, US
This work, MPs raise the bar, join ‘1,000 lb. Club’, by SSG Richard Andrade, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.