A Lesson Learned in Teamwork

One of the reasons I like writing in this blog is we get to tell some stories about our past military or civilian service life. What makes it even more enjoyable is that many of you can relate to them because you have had similar experiences in your active duty or civilian service careers. It’s also nice to lighten things up a little because of the everyday stress and strain that goes along with the highly responsible duties most of you perform each and every day. Today I thought I would tell kind of a funny, yet oh so true story when early on in my Air Force career they were trying to instill the importance of teamwork into me and the rest of my unit.

TeamA little background on myself to set the tone of the story. I was a good athlete, not great, but pretty good at any sport I tried as I was growing up. My first duty station as an airman basic was in hot, subtropical Okinawa, Japan. Despite being far from home, it was a good base to be on because of its size, and because of that, there was a lot of variety offered as far as the sports that you could play. I chose to play softball, baseball and flag football and quickly gained a reputation as someone you wanted on your team. I played a lot of ball to say the least and loved it.

Now granted, the Air Force was not nearly as physically demanding as the other services, especially the Army and the Marines, but that timed mile and a half run was still a little intimidating when you were not working out every day. I was good at chasing wide receivers and running around the bases, but running distances was clearly not my thing.

Well as fate would have it, it came time for my unit to pass our yearly PT test. The weather had been rainy, so I was not doing a lot of running around to say the least. Nonetheless, I knew I could get through the run no problem.

Next it was almost time to start. We were all gathered around in anticipation. As good of an athlete as I was, I figured my goal should be to finish second; that was because we had this skinny guy whose favorite snack was raw bread dough with icing, so I pretty much figured since his blood was about 80% sugar he would be hard to beat.

As planned, a little over ten minutes later I finished second. That is when things got interesting. Our First Sergeant told us that if we did not all pass, none of passed. With a little over two minutes left someone was missing and I knew who it was and that we were all going to run again if something wasn’t done in a hurry. Sugar blood was having stomach problems (is it any wonder?) so I was tasked to go get the missing man with just under two minutes left before we were all disqualified and had to run again.

I ran back onto the course harder than I had run the first time. Way off in the distance, I saw my fellow unit member walking, and when I got to him he was not looking so good. I convinced him to try again after he at first refused. I pulled, begged, tugged, carried and pushed him as best as an exhausted me could. Miraculously, we somehow stumbled and fell across the finish line with three seconds to spare.

After recovering about three months later (just kidding), I realized that if I had been a team player from the start I could have made things much easier on me and my unit. If I had stayed with that fellow airman and paced him, it would have been an easy run for us both with no worries about finishing. That was the last time I put myself before my unit; after all, that was the way it was supposed to be in the first place, but I had to learn the hard way.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

Craig has been writing for several years but just recently made freelance writing a full time profession after leaving behind 26 years working in the swimming pool construction industry. He served four years in the US Air Force as an Imagery Interpreter Specialist in Okinawa, Japan and at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. As a staunch supporter of law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firemen, search and rescue personnel and those who serve in the military, Craig is proud to contribute to the US Patriot blog on their behalf.
Craig Smith
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