Camp Fuji-Japan—As morning broke and Mount Fuji crept out from behind its normal cloudy veil, Armed Forces Entertainment HEAVY Medal III made an early start of Day 10 of the tour at Camp Fuji visiting US Marines.
Located at the foot of majestic Mount Fuji, 60 miles/100km away from downtown Tokyo, Team USA woke to the sounds of reveille along with nearly 150 Marines permanently stationed at the Combined Arms Training Center Camp. In addition to the permanent residents, Camp Fuji sees troops rotate through for multi-week training utilizing its live fire ranges.
Every Marine understands and has to conquer the Obstacle Course. And it was no different for Team USA. The dreaded Obstacle Course, or ‘O’ Course, was on the docket for 09:00 with Captain Tarr and 2nd Lieutenant Hapken. Under their watchful eyes as well as armed with valuable instruction on techniques that each Marine learns in Basic School, Olympians Nelson Carmichael, Kaylin Richardson and Sean Colgan were initiated into O School.
“Technique is so important when tackling each of the stations,” commented Richardson. “Strength alone is not enough. I was so impressed by Lt. Hapken and the way she moved through each obstacle using those skills. She totally rocked the course!”
They either love it or hate it, but in the end technique and determination wins every time over sheer brute strength. And HEAVY Medal III athletes would have to agree.
Lunch was spent at the Roadhouse, the NCO Club, where Marines mixed with Olympians. Special HEAVY Medal Tech shirts were passed around, medals were tried on and lots of photos were taken that would be shared online with family members far, far away. Camp Fuji is a post that requires service members to leave their families for this one-year rotation.
Safe transportation was the topic in the afternoon as HEAVY Medal III Olympians experienced the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) Vehicle. This heavy-duty truck is an armored fighting vehicle designed for the US Marine Corps with the goal of surviving explosive attacks and ambushes. MRAP vehicles usually have “V” shaped hulls to deflect away any explosive forces originating below the vehicle, thereby protecting the vehicle and its passenger compartment.
Having completed Explosive Ordnance Disposal 101 earlier in the week, Lalive and Richardson moved onto earning their EOD Master’s program, learning how to operate remote controlled bomb detecting robots. Simultaneously, 1980 Olympian Colgan underwent physical conditioning wearing a 90-pound Marine blast suit.
The day ended as it began with beautiful Mount Fuji. Commanding Officer, Col. Kozeniesky, along with several officers treated the group to a trip to Station 5 on the famous mountain. At roughly 2,000 meters above sea level, this station is just one of several ways to the summit of this incredible icon.
“HEAVY Medal III is all about America’s athletes honoring America’s heroes,” said Colgan. “The Marines at Camp Fuji rolled out the red carpet for us and we hope it was just as meaningful for them as it was for us.”