Success through struggle is a story of one young soldiers attempt at something great. Through the struggles that I endure in this story of my attempts of joining an elite military organization are a testament to Army Values and the warrior ethos. You will learn that even if you do not succeed at first you will find success in other avenues. This story is not for quitters it is for those who enjoy tales that show triumph of the mind, body, and spirit. Introduction I was back from my first deployment to Iraq with the 1st Battalion 27th Infantry Regiment that lasted fifteen months.
Although I had completed my tour there and had accomplished more than many newly turned nineteen year olds I still had an empty space in me I wanted more. I still felt as if I had not accomplished enough. When the deployment was reaching its end I had a talk with one of my section leaders and I remember telling him that I wanted to attend Special Forces Aptitude Selection (SFAS). He like most people didn’t believe me he probably just thought I was like the many people that said things like that to get promoted or into the spotlight.
But meant what I said which although fraught with challenges and ending in failure still set me up for success in the Army. This is the story of how I didn’t make it through SFAS. Description of Events Thad already made up my mind about attending SFAS before | had even returned from Iraq. So while most other soldiers were drinking, re-uniting with family, and settling back into normal life I was already preparing myself for SFAS the best I could. I attended the briefing before I was even done in processing back into the United States.
I had also began an extremely arduous physical fitness regimen with a few other highly motivated soldiers. About three months after I returned home I decided I was finally ready to test myself and left in early June to attend that months SFAS cycle in FT. Bragg North Carolina at the infamous camp McCall. When I reported into in process a day or so before my class was set to start you could already feel the tension and nervous energy in the air. I was still a fairly new soldier just newly promoted to Specialist only about five months before this.
So when I was hearing a big group of leaders and people who have been in the Army way longer than I have talk about being nervous it surprised me. Not all of them were nervous there people from all different units and some who had even attended the course before. We basically hung out for about a day and then were picked up by the cadre then the fun began. The first day we arrived to Camp McCall in the late afternoon. It was a warm North Carolina day. There were about three hundred of us all motivated and ready to go.
We received all of our briefs and found the tents we would be staying in and sewed up our reflective vests and uniforms with our roster numbers on them. The next day came as a shock to me we took our APFT and we lost a good twenty five to thirty people from that event alone. We were then ordered to make sure we ran everywhere and were issued our box of Meals ready to eat (MRE) for the week. We then spent most of the day in a classroom taking the Defense Language Aptitude Battery DLAB and other tests. That night we did our first timed ruck march.
I surprised myself to see that I was doing well compared to most others. After that event we lost another 25-30 people to that word “quit”. The next couple of days consisted of our timed runs over distances of 6-8 miles, and our rucks over distances of 6-10 miles. We also conducted the infamous log and rifle physical training event. During all those events I watched people quit and get injured and they had to drop out. On the third or fourth day I made my attempt at “Nasty Nick” the obstacle course at Camp McCall. I blasted through the first few obstacles with no problem.
My confidence was building with each moment I was still there. Then I came up to the confidence climb. I was sleep deprived when I watched the video they show you on how to negotiate the obstacles on the course. Even though I did my best to stay awake even while standing up it didn’t help me. | had never negotiated this obstacle in my career. I sprang up to the top by the time I was at the second to last wood beam I had to jump and pull myself all the way up. When I had managed to do that I looked down and tried to figure out how I was going to get down. The video had made it look easy.
I fell the whole way down I’m lucky I didn’t hit any of the beams on the way down. I landed bounced back up into the air and then landed on my back. I came to less than a couple seconds later looked down at my feet and checked myself for injuries. I didn’t see any so I rose to my feet and asked the cadre if I could try again. The Cadre replied “no” so I asked him again then he told me to “lay down because I might have a spinal injury”. I told him wouldn’t been able to get up if I had a spinal injury. I lost that argument, and was medically dropped from SFAS with three broken ribs.
I was kept at Camp McCall for about a day until they sent me home. Although I was extremely disappointed by this. I still felt pride knowing I didn’t quit like many of the people that were there. Outcomes When I returned back to my unit most of the Leaders and soldiers there didn’t believe me when I told them what had happened. But when I had a couple people I had trained with to prepare from the course comeback they told my story. Apparently the fall and my ability to get back up from it motivated them and one told me it even helped him pass through the rest of the course.
My chain of command noticed my efforts as well. I was still in tremendous shape and took Army Physical fitness test and even with my broken ribs scored a 270 which is a decent score especially for someone who is injured. My leadership and the other soldiers in my unit noticed this and because I motivated them and set an example for others to follow I was sent to the promotion board. Before I had even turned twenty one I was already in charge of my own squad. Although the Army isn’t what it used to be I still love it. I love to train, teach, and to continue motivate soldiers and junior leaders under me.
I am not sure if I am going to stay in the full twenty years. But I know that either way I will take the skills and will to succeed that I learned here and will apply it to other aspects of my life. Lessons There are a few lessons that can be taken from my tale of success through failure. One of them is that you should never judge a person off of a first impression. Many people wouldn’t believe me until they witnessed what I did or talked to someone who did. You should never count someone out of anything just because of the way they look or what you have been told about them.
Let their actions speak for themselves this is a great for leaders in today’s Army. There are many people who will talk a big game but when it comes time to step up and fight, train, or perform they fall short because they didn’t prepare or were just lazy. Finally the most important lesson to take away from this is that you should never quit on anything that you truly want. The Army and life in general is full of bitter old men that quit somewhere along the way and try to make others feel miserable for their failure. Don’t be that bitter old man, that toxic leader. Motivate the people around, under, and over you.
If you do that you will make your organization successful. Conclusion Although the Army isn’t what it used to be I still love it. I love to train, teach, and to continue motivate soldiers and junior leaders under me. I am not sure if I am going to stay in the Army until my retirement. I know that either way I will take the skills and will to succeed that I learned here and will apply it to other aspects of my life. If you have high aspirations you can accomplish almost anything. Even if you fail at those high aspirations you will still be better off than where you began.