ABOARD USS BATAAN -- The seeming monotony of daily routines within the confined space of a ship can dull anyone's motivation and physical "edge." For Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, currently embarked on ships of the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group as part of the unit's ESG Integration Training, finding a way to work both mind and muscle can require a little thinking outside the box.
Four Marines from the MEU Command Element's logistics section found an answer by orchestrating a little competition to keep their bodies and spirits in good shape.
Captain John S. Sattely, Gunnery Sgt. Christopher S. Nelson, Staff Sgt. Alexandra Prospero and Cpl. Jon S. Wiley decided to see who among them could summon the dedication to run the most miles while aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) for the at-sea training period.
The rules were simple and straightforward: the contest would begin as soon as all competitors were aboard and end when the first one disembarked. In addition, it was agreed that all miles were to be logged on treadmills or the Bataan's flight deck; no elliptical machines or stationary bikes were allowed for these hard-charging Teufelhunden.
The competition began with an accord between Prospero, the MEU ammo chief, and Sattely, the unit's assistant logistics officer, dictating that whoever completed the most miles on ship would plan the logistics section's next physical training session.
Having the chance to run PT for a day was the main reason why Prospero went along with the challenge, she said.
According to her, the section was due for a nine-mile run, Sept. 6, after the MEU had returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., from ESGINT.
"I wanted to do something different for a change because we run all the time," she said. "So I brought the challenge up to the Captain and Gunny and they said sure."
The two were joined in the endeavor by Nelson, who is an avid runner with multiple marathons under his belt.
"I wanted to find an excuse to break away from the monotony of the office," explained Nelson.
Sattely, who claims Raleigh, N.C., as his hometown, said he wanted to make sure he was keeping up his cardiovascular fitness, which can be a challenge without a dedicated effort on ship.
Even though he was at first reluctant to take part, in the end Wiley had fun and got something out of the contest.
"Without the competition driving me on, I probably wouldn't have worked out on ship at all," said the Fort Ashby, W.Va., native.
Prospero, who hails from El Paso, Texas, added that having a chance to show up Sattely was a big reason for her to compete.
"Actually, it comes down to beating the captain."
Personal differences aside, the four agreed that the competitive atmosphere in their section made the mileage challenge inevitable.
Major Chris Ketcherside, who, as the MEU logistics officer, is in charge of the four Marines involved in the competition, said he is pleased to see the fire and fighting spirit brewing in his section.
"I think it's highly motivating," he said. "I'm glad they've found something positive to do together as a group."
The 26th MEU continues to train here as part of its rigorous six-month pre-deployment training program which will culminate in a scheduled early 2007 deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
For more information on the 26th MEU, please visit www.26meu.usmc.mil.