In some ways I miss the days of waking up at 6 a.m. or earlier every weekday and jumping into my physical training uniform. By 6:30 a.m., I was standing in front of the company orderly room in formation, ready for PT.
Shouting chants such as “We like it, we love it, we want more of it. More PT, first sergeant, more PT” really wakes you up in the morning. So do dozens of push-ups and the gentle breeze that sweeps across Fort Hood every morning.
Out at my former barracks, across from the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters, we’d assemble up , do some stretching, then get neck-deep into the exercises: push-ups, sit-ups, side straddle hops, flutter kicks and others. Then, typically, we’d hit Battalion Avenue to run a few miles, singing in cadence behind the company commander, first sergeant and guidon.
In those days the uniform was the gray T-shirt with black lettering, similar to the current uniform, along with shorts made of the same gray material with an inner lining. I understand the Army has gone to black shorts since then.
And soon, the Army is apparently going to have a new PT uniform. One unit on Fort Hood is actually testing the uniform now. It’s noticeably different than the current uniform. It’s all black with yellow letters. The black T-shirt weighs less than the current gray T-shirt and is made to draw off excess moisture. The uniform looks sharp, and the bright yellow (or gold, as the Army calls it) letters really stick out.
On the surface, it’s another change in the Army, and if one thing is constant in the Army, it’s change. Dig deeper, though, and the uniform doesn’t really matter.
PT is important to an Army unit, not because of the uniform worn, but what it does for individual soldiers, and perhaps more importantly, for the unit as a whole.
It doesn’t just keep everybody in good physical condition; it brings about unit cohesiveness.
Soldiers can bond during PT. Everybody’s running in formation. Everybody’s going through the same pain.
I remember when my company of 50 or 60 soldiers would pass another company running in formation on Battalion Avenue, there was a sense of pride. A sense of “we are more fit than these guys.”
At the same time, if another company passed us…. Uggh. It was sense of “we’ve got to do better than this.”
PT can be tiresome and fun and sweaty. And it’s good to sweat.
Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the city editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.