Course tales: PT Time at the Army School of Medicine

Mark Conley

Active member
Another time…another place...

Fate and a volunteer position put me in a Joint Service training unit for Health care providers (can you say doctors, nurses and dentists Oh My!) back in the 1980s. Some of my greatest moments happened at that course for me.

One of the requirements was that we attend the Instructors training course for both the Army and the Air Force. The training classes for the army side happened at the Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Now usually, our joint unit often sent us to the class with at least one other person, so we would at least have someone to lean on for moral support during the instruction. In my case, i went totally alone, and knew no one attending.

Out of a class of thirty instructor candidates, there were a whole table of Special Forces personnel that hung mostly together. I admired them for the simple reason that they covered each other very well: no one messed with them, and they actually got along with every one. They even adopted me...sort of to keep me out of trouble with the instructor cadre, which from the first day i got into deep kimchi with them I had the audacity to wear my blue uniform to class, and i had stuck out among the group very obviously. At that time, Air Force personnel were not allowed to wear the standard Battle Dress Utility the Army wore: and we could not attend class in green sateen fatigues. In short time, one of the cadres had dubbed me "Little Boy Blue" and the name stuck.

The most trying time of the six-week instructor’s course was the enforced physical training regimen and exercise, including a run, three times a week. Well, when the army goes on a three mile run, its really three miles to the mountain, three miles up the mountain, three miles down the mountain, and three miles back. To say i was inadequate at running was an understatement. The first day, I barely made it to the 1 1/2-mile point before stopping and totally blowing my lunch on the parade field. On the next cycle, i did a little better: at 1 3/4 miles i just simply passed out, and they had to call the meat wagon.

Now the guy that led the group in the run was all over me, telling me to drop an all because I couldn’t hack the physical part of it. He then made the mistake of chewing the rest of the group out as well, for allowing an obvious mistake to remain in the class when there were other fine army people waiting to get into the class. He then left the group standing in place.

Well the dreaded third run came up, and i could just see me dropping from the course. I assumed my position at the back of the running column, and prepared to die at the point as before…and be dropped from training.

What was funny was that two of the largest Special Forces guys had dropped back to run with me. Now normally they were near the front, out running every one. I just thought they wanted to laugh at me as I struggled along, huffing and puffing as usual.

I was totally wrong.

As I started weakening at or near the 1-mile point, both closed in close, grabbed me under the arms, and carried me for at least a half mile while i caught my breath. They then put me down and made me keep pace with them. I noticed that the other three Special Forces guys in the front ranks had slowed the pace to the one I could make...and no amount of yelling by the cadre staff made them go faster. Carrying and dragging me, we finally finished the four-mile run.

They did it again the next PT time…slowing the pace…dragging me and towing me when I was a little groggy, but this time they did not have to carry me. I finished the four miles with the class.

This went on, until the last week, I was keeping up with the bunch, with no towing, and at a pace that wasn’t too bad. By then, the cadre sergeant just gave up trying to run me, and let the group do what they could to pull me through.

I finally got my Instructors diploma. Stopping at the back table, I thanked the group for helping me out. They all smiled and said no problem. Later on, one of the Special Forces men was assigned to the unit, and I asked him why they had helped me in the class.

He looked at me, grinned and began his explanation. During the beer session they all had on the first night after class, they had noted that this certain cadre had taken an instant dislike to me, and had overheard him making a bet with another cadre that he could drive me out of the class. They had all taken a vote that evening that this particular cadre was going to lose the bet. That and they said that watching me word duel with an army cadre was often the funniest part of their day. When I asked him what he meant, he smiled and stated’ That first day, When he called you little boy blue and we noticed that you responded ” Ok, so when were you in the corn"? We knew we were going to back a winner"

God Bless them em all: :cheers:
Boss, I really honestly believe this story should be made a STICKY in the "Joining the Military Forum".
Sometimes I wish the kids in my JROTC unit could pick up on teamwork...I did see a little bit of it that made me proud. Delta flight has one overweight female in their flight. Name shall be kept for her sake, but anyway...We went on a field trip to Chattanooga,TN, and hiked up a mountain. The busses were waiting at the top of the mountain, so we didnt even have to go back down. Anyway, this particular cadet was having trouble, so her entire flight stayed back and made sure she got up the mountain. That made me proud, and I recommened Delta for outstanding flight because of that display.