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    Monster Mash: Memorial Workout by the 306th Rescue Squadron for A1C William Pitsenbarger

    DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, AZ, UNITED STATES

    02.14.2020

    Story by Andre Trinidad 

    943rd Rescue Group/Public Affairs

    Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. – It’s 42 degrees on a dark and windless morning, the sun will arrive in 20 minutes. Florescent lights cut the dawn through an open door from a converted metal shed that serves as a gym for an elite group of U.S. Air Force personnel.
    Inside the rectangular building, a group of people is wearing various exercise and military-esque clothing. At the opposite end from the open door, sits a sparsely adorned round table with a white table cloth and a single red rose.
    On January 24, members of the 306th Rescue Squadron participated in an honorary workout for A1C William H. Pitsenbarger, a Pararescuemen (PJ) who was killed in action during the Vietnam conflict. Pitsenbarger is the only PJ who has received the Medal of Honor.
    The motto of the PJ’s is “These things we do that others may live,” and this creed is exemplified by no greater definition then by the actions of A1C William “Pits” Pitsenbarger. Today the 306th Rescue Squadron honors Pits, with a special workout.
    In the rescue community, these honorary workouts are known as a monster mash, wherein a series of demanding physical activities are performed, typically in honor of retirement or a fallen comrade.
    Master Sgt. Matt, Pararescuemen 306th Rescue Squadron, calls the group's attention to formally begin the monster mash ceremony.
    “The point of today's workout is to come together as a team and be a part of something bigger than ourselves, bigger than any one individual,” says Sgt. Matt. “Remember the ones that have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.”
    The five points of notice spoken during the ceremony are:
    1. Remember A1C William H. Pitsenbarger, Killed in Action (KIA) April 11th, 1966. He was 21 years old and had completed over 300 rescue missions.
    2. Remember the 58,220 servicemen and women KIA & 153,000 Wounded in Action (WIA) during the Vietnam War
    3. There are 1,587 service members still Missing in Action (MIA); their surviving families have not had closure.
    4. 2.59 million Service members who served during the Vietnam conflict, and the sacrifice they made so that we can enjoy our freedoms today.
    5. Teamwork, it is together that we accomplish the mission.
    Master Sgt. James, Pararescuemen 306th Rescue Squadron, reads a poem by “Trash,” a mud soldier with Charlie 2/16 U.S. Army Rangers that honors the PJ’s. “Then flyboys, grunts and sailor’s great warriors one and all; as one will stand and salute the heart of the PJ’s who saved us all.”
    Chief Master Sgt. Luke, Pararescuemen 306th Rescue Squadron, read Pitsenbarger’s Medal of Honor Citation.
    “With complete disregard for personal safety, Airman Pitsenbarger volunteered to ride a hoist more than one hundred feet through the jungle, to the ground. On the ground, he organized and coordinated rescue efforts, cared for the wounded, prepared casualties for evacuation, and insured that the recovery operation continued in a smooth and orderly fashion. Through his personal efforts, the evacuation of the wounded was greatly expedited. As each of the nine casualties evacuated that day was recovered, Airman Pitsenbarger refused evacuation in order to get more wounded soldiers to safety.”
    Next Master Sgt. Jason, Pararescuemen 306th Rescue Squadron, read the Missing Man Table and Honors ceremony. A solemn remembrance of the Prisoners of War (POW) and those still MIA. Each item on the table has deep significance to the military members who have not made it home, what they endured and that we have not forgotten them.
    Once the formal ceremony has finished the group breaks off into teams of 2 to 4 people.
    The rules for the workout include the following
    1. Each team must carry 1 Medical Ruck and 1 M4 rifle (replica).
    2. Each person will perform 2 Burpees every even minute, to simulate taking contact (being shot at).
    3. The entire event is done as a team but repetitions may be split between teammates as needed, only the 400-meter run must be completed by each participant.
    The workout is designed to simulate the movements and techniques utilized by Pitsenbarger on the battlefield during his heroic and final day.
    “We started with a 400-meter run simulating his insertion onto the battlefield,” says Sgt. Matt. “We continue with 500M litter carry’s, simulating all the patients that he was carrying around in the battlefield. Using the slam balls and sledgehammer swings simulate dispersing ammo and medical equipment to the troops and moving gear from one casualty collection point to the other.”
    A total of 700 meters of buddy carries are performed to simulate all the wounded patients' Pits carried. Additionally, 50 lbs. of water in jerry cans were carried a quarter of a mile to simulate dragging the wounded soldier by their collar or uniform.
    A 100-meter bear crawl while dragging a skedco (rescue stretcher) with 150 lbs simulating crawling under gun-fire while pulling a patient to safety.
    “The whole workout is staying low, staying undercover and carrying patients from the battlefield,” says Sgt. Matt.
    In total the monster mash includes nearly 1.5 miles of running with: your team, a 150 lb stretcher, carrying your buddy, bear crawl while dragging 150 lbs, and 50 lbs of water in two jerry cans. Interspersed they also do 66 pull-ups, 66 burpee mountain climbers, 50 slam ball throws and every two minutes stop what they’re doing to perform two burpees to simulate getting shot at.
    Each team completes the entire monster mash in less than 30 minutes. There is an abundance of heavy breathing, sweat dripping, vocal encouragement, and comradery. The grueling workout is inspirational and layered with meaning.
    After the monster mash, the group gathers around a large circle to perform memorial pushups to close out the ceremony.
    On the anniversary of when PJs or Combat Rescue Officers (CRO’s) are killed they honor their legacy by performing 50 pushups plus three additional push-ups; one for Pararescue, one for fallen comrades and one for the member that they are honoring.
    Since Pitsenbarger was killed on April 11th, 1966, today’s workout was in honor of his legacy and the release of the new film “The Last Full Measure.” A film that follows the heroic actions by Pitsenbarger and the 30-year fight by the people he saved, to get him the Medal of Honor.
    “It’s the first movie dedicated to Pararescue,” says Sgt. Matt. “We don’t want a lot of movies about us but we do want to shine a light on what Pits did in Vietnam and his sacrifice, along with all the sacrifices PJs have made.”
    It’s now 52 degrees and most of the monster mash participants are heading to the showers, then back to work to finish out their duty day. Several people are wearing t-shirts with Pitsenbarger’s image on the back stating, “Pits would go!!”
    In the afternoon they’ll gather to watch the movie about the highest decorated Pararescuemen, Pits.
    The Pararescue Foundation sponsored a private showing of the film “The Last Full Measure” for the 306th Rescue Squadron, 48th Rescue Squadron and the 68th Rescue Squadron. A total of 98 personnel were able to see the film on opening day.
    Pitsenbarger is a true hero, a man of extreme valor and a source for inspiration and emulating in the Pararescue career field. He and the many others who lived and died with the creed, that others may live, will not be forgotten.
    Disclaimer: The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information and content does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement of the Pararescue Foundation nor the movie, “The Last Full Measure.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.14.2020
    Date Posted: 02.14.2020 16:44
    Story ID: 363239
    Location: DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, AZ, US 

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