LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — As the sun set and the orange full moon rose over the Afghan mountains, the number of people gathered at the gym slowly increased as they waited April 26 to see the first female join the “1,000-pound Club” at Forward Operating Base Gamberi.
Dannesha Jones has been lifting weights since she was 16. When she saw the “1,000-pound Club” flier up, the competitor inside urged her to take part. She had stopped weightlifting for a while but recently got back into the sport because she realized how much she loved it.
Jones and the rest of team serve as “Guardian Angels” at Gamberi and have been in Afghanistan for almost seven months. She and her squad of military police officers are assigned to 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
“When we first arrived at FOB Gamberi, Sgt. 1st Class Crossman took part in the ‘1,000-pound Club,’” Jones said. “I wondered if female soldiers could do it or if they had a different standard.”
Once she found out there was a competition for females, Jones said, “I’m definitely doing it.”
Kenneth Longmire, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation coordinator, is always looking to host activities so soldiers and civilians can have something fun to do on base and created the “1,000-pound Club” challenge. It is divided into three categories based on weight class and requires the participants to lift a total of 1,000 pounds. Every contestant has to reach that figure by combining their individual weight lifted in the squat, bench press and dead lift.
When he started the challenge, Longmire didn’t think females would want to take part, until he met Jones.
“I always see her working out at the gym,” Longmire said. “She is one of the top female weight lifters I have ever seen, and I’ve been doing this for eight years.”
The “1,000-pound Club” challenge is set up to motivate others to improve their physical fitness. Another military police officer who has earned the bragging rights of being in the club is Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Crossman, of the same company.
“I encourage the soldiers to compete in weight lifting. I want them to be physically strong,” said Crossman, the Guardian Angels noncommissioned officer in charge.
Crossman said the Guardian Angel job requires soldiers to be strong and able to respond to an incident at any time.
Crossman currently holds the base’s record in the three combined weight categories. Adding that even though his unit is not a part of 1st Cavalry Division, or with the 101st Airborne Division, he hopes to compete with them and anybody else on Gamberi. Crossman called Jones “a phenom,” and said he has never met another female soldier as strong as her.
“I’ve been practicing, preparing to compete, and today I accomplished lifting, altogether, 800 pounds,” Jones said.
“I’m going to keep training and hopefully reach 1,000 pounds before I leave Afghanistan.”