GR21—Blue Platoon AAR
“The best damn squadron I’ve seen.”
– Gen. George Smith Patton, Jr.
October 10, 2020, to October 11, 2020.
Q: Cadre Shredder, Cadre Dredd, Cadre SeaBass
QIT: Cadre Bloodhound, Cadre Major Payne
PAX: Armstrong, Bartman, Beauty, Bono, Candy Cane, Captain Insane-o, Carlton, Catfish, Cornwallis, Dark Helmet, Dauber, DeVitto, Diablo, Duckling, Gemini, Grisham, Haavaad, Khaki, Lansbury, Lincoln Log, Ma Bell, Motor Boat, Motorboat, Noonan, Oshag, Ricky Bobby, Side Effects, Slaughter, Stick Up, Swobbles, Wilson, Yodel, Zebra.
Roll Call: PAX arrived at Startex by 17:30 prepared to embark on GrowRuck 21. PAX conglomerated in the parking lot as their brothers continued to trickle in and to load up. PAX displayed varying degrees of nerves. Experienced PAX appeared light and excited to get started. Less experienced PAX were nervous as they faced a night of unknowns. In one instance, a PAX departed prior to roll call. The unknowns weighed heavy.
Voices rang out and directed PAX to move from the parking lot to the field. PAX lined up in alphabetical order by region as one-by-one they were checked in. The wait continued.
Finally, PAX looked left to see the ball capped heads of Cadres Shredder and DREDD as they moved through the parking lot to the field entrance. Masks up.
Evolution 1—Arraignment: Cadres Shredder and DREDD directed PAX to move deeper into the field and to form a single line from A-to-Z that spanned the field width. PAX enjoyed the front leaning rest position and PT right out of the gate—more to come.
Pressure and chaos sank in as PAX struggled to form into a single line. A’s down here; no, A’s are at the other end. And so it was that PAX continued to receive punishment for their collective failure to complete the task in a satisfactory manner. PAX disassembled their rucks as directed and ran the remaining field length to Cadre Shredder.
Cadre Shredder directed PAX to form a new, opposing line that spanned the field width—but, by height. PAX again struggled to perform the task in a sufficient manner. Plates overhead. Squat. Get down. Return to Cadre DREDD.
PAX scattered in various directions as they returned to the first line where their ruck rested gently in the grass. Except, some rucks sprouted legs and walked off. Get behind a ruck! This movement proved problematic for PAX as the Cadres introduced further elements of chaos. Empty dry bags. Run. Water overhead. Run. Carabineers overhead.
Commands multiplied and so too did the PT. Cadre Shredder introduced synchronized PT movements to the PAX. As our favorite pirate enjoyed individualized pain, Kilo stepped out to lead the PAX in synchronized 360 degree squat jumps. First attempt? Failure. More pain. PAX learned quickly that if they weren’t facing the same direction then they weren’t doing it correctly. Kilo rallied the PAX for a successful effort. Run.
The cycle continued until PAX successfully moved their entire ruck across the field—a movement so tedious it might make The Cooler King blush.
PAX regrouped in “U” formation around the Cadres and Cadres in training. Cadre introductions commenced before PAX with medical backgrounds were voluntold to identify themselves. Cadres called PAX one-by-one, region-by-region to exit “U” formation for a new formation on the field’s edge. PAX enjoyed front leaning rest position and up-downs until such time as all PAX were accounted for by the Cadres.
In the beginning, Cadre Dredd created the Platoons of the 33 PAX. The Platoons were too large and formless. Cadre Dredd said, “Let there be squads of 11 PAX.” The Squads had form but were inefficient. And Cadre Dredd said, “Let there be teams of 5 PAX.” The teams were nimble and efficient. Cadre Dredd saw all that he had made and it was very good. Except, Cadre Dredd looked upon Blue Platoon (“Blue Squadron”)—the greatest of his creations—and shook his head.
The sun set behind the horizon as the Platoons embarked on their next evolution. Cadres Shredder, Dredd, and SeaBass instructed the platoons on basic formation. Blue Squadron fixed its gaze upon Beauty as the platoons performed formation drills. Blue Squadron remained left of White Platoon all night. Cadres moved and rotated the platoons, bodies crisscrossed under the night sky as voices rang out from all direction.
Fortunately, Blue Squadron followed its North Star—Beauty’s stringy arms as they flailed wildly in the night. “On Beauty!” Finally, Blue Squadron joined its brethren in “U” formation for an AAR. PAX accompanied Flounder to retrieve water bladders for the night.
Blue Squadron and its brethren discovered why the triangle is the strongest shape. Blue Squadron rotated counter-clockwise from Cadre-to-Cadre. Each Cadre brought his own style to the PT. Cadre Shredder had Blue Squadron crawl in the grass. Roll in the grass. Left. Right. Right. Left. Right. At each stop, Blue Squadron fell in formation only to be pushed to their physical limits. Merkin. Squats. Side straddle hops. Lunge walks. And bear crawls oh my.
Blue Squadron’s elder statements—the OG—Wilson experienced debilitating cramps. Wilson pushed himself hard, and his brothers rallied to assist him. Finally, Wilson’s body betrayed his mind and he was forced to resign to the sideline—perhaps, the most difficult place to be.
Blue Squadron and its brethren continued to be crushed under the Cadres’ demanding PT. But, Beauty’s flailing arms continued to guide the group through the chaos.
Evolution 4—Floaties. Blue Squadron felt pretty snappy after the first three evolutions. Sure, Wallace may have had a few critiques of us for messing up the count. But, our energy was good as we exited the field—snagging extra water bladders along the way—down to the creek.
Blue Squadron joined its brethren in the creek to cool off. Tip-toeing around “big rocks,” Blue Squadron eased into the very same limestone filtered water used to produce Pappy. Submerging ourselves up to our waists, Blue Squadron joined its brethren in a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. We—with our undercarriages dipped in the cold Kentucky creek—started a little high which proved problematic for the PAX. But, the moment was a beautiful one that the local residents won’t soon forget.
The PAX continued to oscillate between sitting in the creek and performing PT movements. Finally, the PAX gingerly exited the creek—avoiding “big rocks”—back up the hill towards the parking lot.
Evolution 5—Alpine Racing. Blue Squadron emerged purified from the limestone creek and ready to be distilled for another eleven hours. The leaders peeled off to learn the way of the alpine butterfly knot. Like the first man to harness fire, the leaders returned triumphantly to teach the rest of Blue Squadron how to tie the alpine butterfly knot. Blue Squadron quickly discovered that 6 foot, alternating increments would not be their friend. Each PAX tied a knot in the line and clipped into the knot with their carbineer where they stood.
Once clipped in, Cadres Shredder and DREDD invited the PAX to embark on a mile ruck “race” to be completed in under fifteen minutes. Blue Squadron—led by its Cape Fear-less leader Beauty—set the pace and finished the “race” first. The Cadres’ alleged that said race was completed in approximately nine minutes—the PAX remain skeptical.
Blue Squadron’s crowning achievement.
Evolution 6—Oh Pharaoh, Pharaoh. The Cadres introduced Blue Squadron and their brethren to three bundles of angle iron nestled neatly in the grass. Beyond the angle iron, a pile of logs awaited Blue Squadron. Cades Shredder and DREDD directed the PAX to move their 680lb angle iron up-and-back by rolling it on top of three logs—with only the log PAX unclipped.
Confident off its “win,” Blue Squadron quickly grabbed three logs and made its way up the field, turned around, and back down toward and through the fencing.
Winners! Yay Blue Squadron. High-fives all around.
Evolution 7—Turn right to Giza. Resting on its laurels, Blue Squadron failed to realize that the journey had only just begun. The Cadres distributed team coupons—one 60lb sandbag, two 80lb sandbags, one 120lb sandbag, and water bladders. A single bourbon barrel to age the class.
Blue Squadron moved aggressively along the outside toward the pick-up truck. Surely, we are done. Much to its chagrin, Blue Squadron was slow to realize that the Pharaoh’s journey had only just begun. Log jammed at turn one, Blue Squadron sneaked through the middle, across the side walk, and up the road underneath the overpass.
The Pharaoh’s journey continued uphill. The road gave way to grass. The grass gave way to taller grass. And Blue Squadron just gave way. Once a distant afterthought, Red Platoon found its rhythm and continued to gain ground on the once mighty Blue Squadron. Blue Squadron continued to struggle with its baby log. Over time, Blue Squadron’s emotions got the best of it. The aptly named Lincoln Log had steel angle iron not-so-surgically affixed to his cankles.
Finally, Red Platoon overtook Blue Squadron—a demoralizing moment for the once mighty PAX. Nevertheless, Blue Squadron willed its way to the finish line. Empowered with extra Red Platoon team weights, Blue Squadron rallied past high emotions and a leadership change to the evolution finish line. But unlike those who made the pyramids, Blue Squadron would not let itself be sentenced to an early grave.
Evolution 8—This Is Not A Test. It’s a PT Test. Emotionally strained, Blue Squadron was voluntold to enjoy quiet time via a PT test. PAX rucked up and assembled along the soccer field goal lines. Each PAX was to sprint across the field—without ruck—to the other side. Upon arrival, each PAX was to perform 10 burpees. Sprint back. Perform 10 squat thrust—with ruck. Repeato for 15 rounds.
Blue Squadron had more PAX finish than the other teams. The reward? A bourbon barrel respite.
Evolution 9—Simple Ruck. PAX clipped back into their lines and set off on a simple ruck. The PAX rucked an unconfirmed distance to another creek access trail. The PAX eased down toward the creek, stepping in-and-out of a ditch along the way.
Evolution 10—No Floaties. PAX re-entered the creek for another swim. After acknowledging all of the “big rocks,” PAX descended to their 6 with their rucks on their chests like a soothing, weighted blanket. Cadre Shredder encouraged the PAX to shut their eyes. Relax. Lay back. Soak the moment in. Soak in the why.
Next, PAX performed flutter kicks and Dolly’s along with other PT before emergence from the water.
Evolution 11—Simple Ruck 2. PAX rucked yet another unconfirmed distance back to the soccer fields. However, PAX stopped to perform PT along the road as Blue Squadron’s Lansbury nursed his little baby toe that he stubbed—embarrassing. Reunited, and feeling so good, PAX finished the simple ruck. Regrouped. Established new Class Leaders. Performed a Florida recount of all PAX.
Evolution 12—Back to Cairo. Blue Squadron and its brethren prepared the angle iron for the return journey. Under new leadership, Blue Squadron took a moment to cut and tie new, longer rope for the return journey. Operating under limited time, Blue Squadron and its brethren raced to get all items over the fence. Once on the other side, the teams journeyed toward Endex.
Blue Squadron found an improved rhythm as daylight broke. Despite increased fatigue, Blue Squadron’s spirits were high—largely due to the thrill of vehicles passing through the park.
Bringing up the rear, Blue Squadron joined the other platoons under the power lines to mummify and abandon the Pharaoh. Having neatly arranged the coupons, the teams settled in for Worm’s sunrise remarks.
Evolution 13—Final Charge. The teams gathered and divvied up the coupons, water bladders, and rope for the final push. Retracing their steps, the Platoons pressed onward toward the finish. By now, pedestrians and vehicles infiltrated the park—any further efforts to urinate would surely be frowned upon and possibly met with citation.
Flag in hand, Cadre Shredder led the teams across the finish line to Endex. Blue Squadron snapped back into formation on Beauty. Rucks off. Rucks neat. The Cadres delivered final speeches that moved both them and the PAX.
Each PAX received his hard earned patch and a handshake before taking a socially distant group photo. Snagging some fresh threads. Enjoying cold barley pops. Scrutinizing wrinkled, pale feet. Sharing laughs. Heading home.
And so GrowRuck 21 started something bigger than one night.
Miscellaneous—RESPECT to our brothers Wilson and Oshag—Blue Squadron for life. TClaps to Lincoln Log who stepped up and steered the steel on the off-chance we actually moved it. Bono reminded us that “[t]his is the way.” Candy Cane is a well-hydrated PAX. Zebra enjoys carrying heavy things—by himself. Devitto is a conversationalist and a renaissance man. Bartman has not always had a flat foot—he does now. Grisham ensured that nobody died. Lansbury was prepared to defend any wrongful death suit if necessary. Duckling waited nine years for an event like this, but vows to not wait another nine years for his next event.
Thank you to our gracious hosts for an unforgettable weekend.