News: 42nd FiB sweats for vets
Story by Staff Sgt. Aaron Knowles
Before the break of dawn is a normal time for a soldier to start their day.
This morning was no different.
As the sun rose from behind the horizon, its light danced on the clouds like a fire rising to greet the soldiers and help them start their mornings with its own ferocity.
As the darkness grew lighter, soldiers gathered into a formation.
The formation was led by a guidon of gold and red, just as intense as the flames in the heavens but nowhere near as intense as within the Soldiers in the formation.
This specific morning was a special morning.
This was a morning to remember the fires of the past, present and future.
The soldiers of the 42nd Fires Brigade conducted a special CrossFit workout, which commemorated Veterans Day at their brigade headquarters, Nov. 7.
“Today was a culminating event,” Col. John A. O’Grady, the brigade commander of 42nd Fires Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, said. “We started off the week with a PT session that was similar to this. We finished off the duty week with a physical fitness session that was comprised of a reflection of what it means to be a veteran.”
“We started off the week with ‘hey, how did veterans day even come about’ and soldiers read off various readings of various presidential proclamations,” O’Grady said. “We had Soldiers step forward and speak about what Veterans Day meant to them.”
O’Grady wanted soldiers to understand that this is tradition. It is something more important than just physical training and just having a four-day weekend.
“The various sessions always had something to do with the number 11,” O’Grady said. “Whether it is the 11th day or the 11th hour or the 11th minute or the 11th month of November or the first Armistice Day, it was a good way to get in touch with our roots and what it means to be a veteran and also to honor our service today. Also, honor the Soldiers and their Families and the sacrifices that they make.”
Sgt. Reginald Seay, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., and the senior mental health specialist of 42nd FiB, 3rd ID, was very proud to be a part of this event.
“I have never done this before,” Seay said. “This was kind of good to do it; and to honor and hear the others in my unit reflect. It was so good to hear those things.”
Seay has a lot of heritage involved in the military and recognizes how important history is.
“You have to honor the people that came before you,” Seay said. “You can’t go anywhere if you don’t take pride in what came before and those who laid down a path before you. My grand dad served, my uncle served, my dad served and it is an honor for me to follow in those footsteps.”
“If I can accomplish half of the things that they accomplished in their military careers, then I know I did something great,” Seay continued. “If I can exceed what they did, then I know I am on my way to a great military career. To be out here, I love pt, so I love getting out, running around and working out. So, to honor them by exercising, doing work and getting a good sweat on, it means a lot to me.”
O’Grady was very proud to see his Soldiers pushing themselves during the session.
As the workout came to a close, the day had become full and the Soldiers were breathing heavily from their moments of “reflection.”
“Living the exceptional life to me is what all service members have chosen to do, regardless of branch of service. Today, our physical training session formally and informally recognized the exceptional life of all veterans,” O’Grady said. “By choosing to wear the uniform, you have chosen to live an exceptional life. Your actions, therefore, need to be aligned with that notion and that you are doing so to honor yourself, your fellow warriors and all those veterans that have gone before you.”
“We tend to hear that soldiers are better than the rest of the American public, and I chose not to look at it that way,” O’Grady said. “I just choose to say that we are living an exceptional life. That’s not to say that others within society aren’t and can’t also do that. Hopefully, we just serve as an example for them to follow through whatever path they choose to live an exceptional life.”
The soldiers of the 42nd FiB walked away from PT that morning knowing that soldiers to their left and right knew the importance of honoring veterans.
“I am glad to fight alongside the soldiers in my battery, my platoon and my brigade because I know that we are all fighting for the same mission: to protect and serve this country,” Seay said as he walked away.