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Marne soldiers in Rocky Elite Contest
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CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — Enter the Task Force Marne Headquarters building at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit, Iraq, and the noticeable sound of typing and clicking, hurried steps and multiple conversations will fill the hallways.
But on the night of Oct. 2, the building was silent. Instead, the noise was present in the back compound of the headquarters, where cheers and claps, paired with adrenaline pumping music, filled the area.
Soldiers gathered at the compound for the Rocky Elite Iron Warrior Competition, a competition that tested the endurance of both males and females in a three-series weight lifting event. The events included the squat, bench press and dead-lift.
“Basically, these events will test your overall strength,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Hoo, the 3rd Infantry Division Unmanned Aircraft System standardization and safety officer. “It’s a morale booster for guys and girls who lift all the time and don’t get any recognition for it. We’re going to do something for those guys. Now, here’s [an event] for the weightlifters and power lifters.”
The event was the idea of the 1,000 Pound Club’s avid 3rd Infantry Division weightlifters.
“I’m always in the gym lifting, and I listen to the soldiers, and they’re always saying, ‘Why don’t we put something together? They put other events on for other things, so why don’t we do something?’” Hoo said. “So, I basically just took the soldiers’ ideas and ran with it.”
With each event, competitors had three chances to get their highest weight lift, ensuring optimal opportunities to get their highest score. Competitors had to have a combined score of 1,000 pounds for males and 500 pounds for females, in all three events.
Only the top three male and female competitors were recognized, but the event served as a great break for sold iers who participated in the event, as well as those who observed.
“It’s a morale booster, just to get [soldiers’] minds off of work,” said Spc. Tommy Thornton, a targeting analyst with Headquarters and Headquarters Operations Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 3rd ID. “It can be a stressful job out here in Iraq, being deployed. [This competition] is something to release stress and working out to get away. Most people came out there to see what we can do. We’ve been out here for a year now … everybody takes the time to lift weights during that year, for fun, but more so just to see where they’re at.”
Sgt. 1st Class Shonn Loftin, a G-3 airspace management noncommissioned officer with 3rd Infantry Division, also believes that events like these help sustain deployments.
Taking the top titles for the male competitors were: Master Sgt. Edward Wright, inspector general’s office, came in first place with 1,385 pounds; Loftin came in second with 1,300 pounds. Capt. Todd Schwartz, 21st Combat Surgical Hospital, came in third place with 1,275 pounds.
For the female competitors, Sgt. 1st Class Cleopatra Griggs-Adams, G-6, with 665 pounds, came in first place; Capt. Melissa Johnson, G-2, followed closely at 625 pounds; and Capt. Shaquella Whitt, CBRN-E, came in third with 580 pounds.
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