Guest Post by Donna Zephrine: Donna is an Iraq War Veteran and an accomplished writer. A full bio can be found at http://blogground.com/contributor-bios/
First time experience in military
At Hunter Army Air Field in Georgia I was responsible for conducting physical fitness training (pt) for a group of over 150 soldiers in a unit. At the base soldiers are randomly assigned to conduct the pt of that day and I was told in advance that I will be in charge. Just like we did every day the group met in front of the barracks for check-in and then I took over to start the pt session. You instruct the company to get into position and you begin the exercises.
We do pt everyday so I had a general idea of what it was all about and I was able to see how each solider led the company in their own way. I was a little nervous at the beginning because I was not accustomed to leading such a large group. It is a much different experience following the leader than being the actual leader of the group. I really just did not want to mess anything up and was hoping that the group would get something out of the pt session.
I was given a manual of the pt to go over prior to conducting the session so I reviewed it to make sure I had all of the commands correct and the formations. I knew this would be an activity that was a little bit out of my comfort zone so I wanted to make sure I was well prepared so I focused on the manual so that I could lead the company. I was nervous that I was not going to remember the commands which would cause me to freeze up in front of the entire company and would have to live through the embarrassment of a squad leader having to step in.
I had the company get into formation, I was standing in front of them as they faced me ready to take their next instruction. I was nervous at this point because all eyes were on me as they waited for their next command. Finally I yelled “Extend to the left, MARCH,” as that was the first command I gave after the company got into formation. The soldiers then turned to their left with their arms to their side and began marching following my orders. I was relieved to see my first order being followed and I got more comfortable and confident that I was going to be able to get through this. I then took the company through some warm up exercises like the calf stretch, chest stretch, hips and neck all to get the blood flowing since it was 5:30 A.M. Next I began some calisthenics to warm up, we starting with the side straddle hop, knee lunger, push-ups, sit-ups, engine, and flutterkicks. It gave me a lot of confidence to see the company following my directions as I continued to give them their commands. I was hesitant to start the workout but as time went on I got more comfortable and knew that this was something I could handle and excel at. Once the company completed the calisthenics I then bring them through a cool down in which we I took them through a lot of the same stretches we did during the warm up.
I appreciated the fact that my squad leader platoon sergeant trusted me to lead the company. While I was nervous I knew I needed to step up and lead the company and show the sergeant that he made the right decision to trust me to lead the pt. I received positive feedback from the soldiers in my platoon as well as the officers that were participating.