Hardcore: An Indiana National Guard Soldier Learns The Real Definition
It had already been a long day and night when I pulled into the armory parking lot.
It was around 10:30 p.m., and all I wanted to see was a cot with my name on. The rain was falling lightly on the ground as I walked towards the glow coming from the propped open gym door.
"Thirty seconds have elapsed!" a Soldier yelled.
I thought I was hearing things. As I walked through the glow from around the door I saw it, a row of Soldiers completing pushups. I could not believe what I saw - Soldiers conducting an annual physical fitness test. Why on earth, at this hour I thought. All I could think was, "Man, these guys are Hardcore." Little did I know how right my first impression was.
I signed out some cots for myself and the other Soldiers who had arrived from our previous unit. Then quickly found the senior officer, as I had been instructed to do prior to my arrival. The major showed me and some other Soldiers around. He informed us that physical training for the staff would be held in the morning. We were just going for a "light run" is how he described it. A light run? No big deal. I've got this.
The gym was still busy with activity from the Soldiers returning from the 2-mile run, so there was no way I could sleep yet. I wandered the halls of the dark armory reading the stories and studying the pictures that plastered the walls. I found a rich history going all the way back to Mexican American War. I have seen hundreds of these stories line the walls of armories across Indiana, but nowhere else did the stories seem to be written with so much pride. The Soldiers here clearly knew where they came from and had a strong belief in where they were headed.
I headed towards my cot in the gym; it was finally getting quiet. I walked through the gym doors and saw the Soldiers who had just taken the APFT standing in formation. Tired, wet from the rain, the looks on their faces showed how hard they had worked that day. But it wasn't fatigue in their eyes; there was something else, something motivational. They had worked hard all day and the senior noncommissioned officer in front of them was explaining the day ahead. Despite knowing PT in the morning was close by they still had a sense of fidelity in their expressions. They knew what had to get done and they were willing and eager to make it happen.
"Fall out!" the senior NCO yelled.
The Soldiers all hurried about leaving the formation and scrambled to quickly complete their personal hygiene so they could finally rack out for the night. I too was exhausted, despite not working nearly as hard as those Soldiers.I headed for my cot; it was finally time to get some sleep.
We woke up for PT. Not by the buzz of a clock or the shouts of an NCO, but by the bite of the cold air as it ripped through the gym. I had no idea it was going to be that cold and had only brought my summer physical fitness uniform. "Good thing we're just going on a 'light run,'" I thought to myself.
I began stretching out in the hallway were the staff was meeting. We organized ourselves and took off - just for a "light run."
We returned to the armory, about four miles later. I was destroyed. But these men were just warming up. Men twice my age, were smoking me in a run. I consider myself to be in decent shape, but these men are machines. These men are hardcore.
After the run, I was never more excited to know that briefs were on the schedule for the rest of the day. I was ready to sit down for a bit.
The first brief was resiliency training. I had heard about it before, but wasn't really sure what it was all about. The first sergeant was giving the brief. From what I had gathered about the course, it seemed a bit different from a typical first sergeant style way of teaching things.
Then I saw this grizzled man, the company first sergeant give a brief about remaining strong during tough times. He shared things with the group that showed even the toughest of people may have difficulties bouncing back from rough situations. He helped us all understand the many different strategies and techniques that can be used to stay strong during difficult times.
I saw a man, who Soldiers in the troop all look up to, express the things he felt he was weak in. However, he did not shutter once while talking about them. He showed the Soldiers that it is okay to have difficulties, that it is not a sign of weakness, but rather, the way you address them and the way you overcome them are what make you strong.
The other briefs that weekend went by quickly, because I just could not stop thinking about the words the first sergeant spoke.
Between the resiliency brief, the APFT the night before and the PT that morning, I started to see what hardcore really means. It is not just about running forever and doing a thousand pushups, it is about being mentally hardcore too. Being hardcore in one aspect alone is not enough when fulfilling your role as a Solider. Everything you do, you do it hardcore.
The Soldiers of Headquarters Troop, 1-152 Cavalry, New Albany, Ind., know this. They live it and breathe it, hardcore.
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