Medmenham, England- With the London Summer Olympic Games set to kick off in just days, members of American300, a U.S. nonprofit organization drew attention the effort of a single U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant and the Armed Forces members who will now be ensuring the ultimate safety of the games today at the Royal Air Force Water Sports Centre here in Medmenham.
Jarrod White, who serves the U.S. Air Force as a Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) maintenance training staff member for Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) at the commands Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne Wyoming, was on hand to learn a thing of two about rowing in an actual boat.
“At times I spent upwards of 14 hours a day rowing in order to outpace my fellow Airmen and win the Air Force Global Strike Command Rowing Challenge this spring” said SSG White “Today I got to climb in a double skull and actually row on the famous Thames River... it was amazing.”
Rowing in the real thing...
While the staff sergeant enjoyed first class treatment by members of the British Armed Forces his sponsors at American300 were on hand to send a clear message to the British Armed Forces: Thank You... For All You Do! “We created this rowing challenge with Lieutenant General Kowalski the commander of AFGSC to encourage Airmen to come together, join as one in an effort and get to know one another better” says Robi Powers, the programs creator “Resiliency starts with the ability to share, ability to recognize what needs adjusting and moving in that direction, Staff Sergeant White and his team of Airmen at FE Warren clearly came together.”
Ability to adapt and overcome... whether due to the effects of rowing dozens of hours a day all out or some other life circumstance, the mechanics are all very similar. Said Sean Colgan, a 1980 Olympic Team member who along with teammates wasn’t allowed to compete in the Moscow Summer Games. “Life is all about choices, it throws you curveballs and you have to be ready to deal with them, adjust and move on... make the right choices.”
In the case of Colgan it meant talking with his teammates and agreeing as a team that while they wouldn’t be competing in the Olympics, they could still be the best in the world. “Sean’s team went on to win the World Cup that year and the famed Henley Regatta... just upstream from here on the Thames” added Dan Beery, another special guest on hand to watch the Staff Sergeant take a crack at ‘the real thing’ with members of the Royal Air Force Rowing Club.
From Concept2 ergometer to the water... half a world away from Wyoming.
In Beery’s case the road to the Men’s 8 Olympic Record and gold medal in 2004 was paved with trials and tribulations. Trials and tribulations which he reflected upon as he shared the story of his Olympic Journey with British Armed Forces members.
The gathering a culmination of American300’s request that the machines it loaned to Air Force Global Strike Command for it’s challenge be gifted to the British once the challenge was complete. It also asked that the individual Airmen who rowed the most during the challenge be allowed to travel to London with the Olympians to present the machines to the British Armed Forces on the eve of the Games here.
What it didn’t ask for... that thousands of British Armed Forces members whom the nonprofits many resiliency programming guests rub shoulders with in Afghanistan and other remote deployment locations around the world, have to activate in order to perform security duties next week.
“We created this gifting event nearly 7 months ago... when news spread this week that thousands of British Armed Forces members would be mobilized to perform security functions at the Games due to an error on the part of the private contractor, we realized that this small gesture of thanks was going to take on a much deeper appreciation” said Powers “the British are our brothers and sisters in arms, we serve side by side with them around the world... lifting their spirits and providing them with some special machines was just the right thing to do 7 months ago... and even more so today.”
With hundreds of boats and even more active rowers on the various military service teams, the sight of brand new ‘olympic standard’ training machines wasn’t lost on Major Mike Scofield, a head trainer with the British Army Rowing Team. “We’ll use these machines to help us with selection process in the future... the fact that they have been donated by Americans and bear the names of the five bases involved in a special rowing challenge held back in the states adds a special meaning to them.”
As for the Thames River, it played host to another American rower today. Not on the water to set a record or garnish the pages of the Henley Regatta’s history books, but for the simple reason that it brought closure to a goal.
“People ask me all the time... ‘why did I do it... why did I row so many hours to win this challenge” says SSG White responding “... to prove to myself that I could do it... that I could set my mind to something and see it through... work through the pain and hardship.”
Working through the hardship... for American300 and the Olympians who came to Medmenham today to witness the gifting of the machines to the British, the biggest wish is that the London Summer Games will go off without a hitch... that the London Olympics will be memorable for their athletic stories and athletic efforts only.
Special thanks to those whose hardships in the form of additional duty will ensure the safest Olympic Games ever occurs here next week. And thanks for letting an Airmen from Wyoming go from landlubber to oarsmen today...
American300 Volunteers would like to thank our hosts from Royal Air Force Rowing: Squadron Leader Jim Thorley and Flight Lt. Jo Field along with all the members of RAF Rowing. Special Thanks also go out to Major Mike Scofield of British Army Rowing and Lt. Chris Cozens of Royal Navy and Marines Rowing. To the active duty and retired British Armed Forces Rowers many thanks for the friendship and coalition partnership. To Flight Commadore Tony Wober M.D. retired... Sir we can't thank you enough!
PHOTOS - VIDEO - STORIES at: www.American300.org
For more on British Armed Forces Rowing visit: www.britishrowing.org/clubs
For more information on Air Force Global Strike Command visit: www.afgsc.af.mil
American300 is a 501(c)3 all volunteer nonprofit with a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Armed Forces Members, Their Families and the Areas of Operation that they live and operate in. No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors intended. American300 Warrior Tours.