MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
The Albany Marine Band proved they focus as much on physical fitness as they do on crisp performances when they averaged 288 out of 300, high first-class, on their recent Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test.
To maintain their conditioning, band members conducted rigorous CFT fitness training Jan. 27 at the physical training field at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Boyett Park.
“We’re practicing for the CFT with one group of band members doing the low crawl, which is part of an event in the CFT. We’ll maximize their efforts here so they’ll be more productive in the actual CFT,” said Sgt. William Kilian, acting enlisted conductor. “The ammo can lift is part of the CFT, and we practice with the ammo can to build overall upper body and leg strength so we’ll get better results on the CFT.”
At another training station, Marines practiced the fireman’s carry and buddy drag, also a component of the CFT. For another conditioning exercise, two Marines would flip a 750-pound truck tire five times, and later roll it at a jogging speed, racing alongside to keep it under control.
The CFT unit average was a team effort for the entire band, 43 enlisted Marines and one Marine officer, and each contributed to earning the high score on the grueling CFT. It was the first time the band had taken the test as a unit.
“The band members are fired up about the CFT,” Kilian said. “We practice by doing circuits like this and a lot of running in boots and (utilities).”
Success with the CFT or the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test depends on the level or preparation Marines invest prior to participating in the event.
“We have an excellent training noncommissioned officer and the advantage of having two martial arts instructors,” said Cpl. Jessica Hall, musician.
“They know what’s best for the unit and how to get the mission accomplished. This year, our mission was to get a first-class CFT, and they and the training NCOs put together a training regimen to ensure that happened,” said Hall, the Marine Corps Logistics Command Marine of the Year.
When a unit pulls together to achieve their goal, members feel the impact.
“I feel that we all worked as a team and motivated each other and pushed each other to the max to get the mission accomplished,” said Lance Cpl. Nicki Nall, musician, Albany Marine Band. “We became closer and bonded more.”
For Nall, the band’s recent CFT was the first time she had taken it.
“It’s very difficult, you have to find that inner Marine and just push yourself and keep going, even though you’re tired,” she explained. “You know other Marines are depending on you to do the best you can possibly do.”
Another band member said his CFT score improved from the only other time he had taken it.
“I’ve been here about two months and had taken a CFT in school and did really terrible at it,” said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Boughton, musician. “And when I came here I was really scared because they wanted us to get a first-class score, and they kicked my butt into shape.”
To improve his ability to do well in the CFT, Boughton worked hard in the band’s physical training activities.
“We do PT (physical training) every day, and the last few months we’ve been doing CFT training which is everything you see here, plus more. Like, more running, more work with the ammo cans and a lot of strength and cardio training. It really pumped me up, and I’m proud to be in the band,” he added.
The band’s intense preparation for the CFT, and their spirit while taking the actual test, wasn’t lost on the unit’s leadership.
“I felt like a proud daddy while watching my Marines execute the CFT because it was Marines doing Marine things and they did it with enthusiasm, more than I could expect,” said CWO2 Christian E. Flores, band officer. “But there was another dimension to it in that it’s more of a cultural shift. I think, over the years, Marine musicians have suffered an identity crisis of sorts. From a lack of education, some Marines out there think we don’t go to boot camp, that we’re contracted to play music. When we achieve what we did with the CFT, it shifts the tide and educates the average Marine to the fact we’re all Marines and every Marine is a basic rifleman.”
Since the Albany Marine Band makes many appearances across America, looking like physically fit Marines is important.
“When we travel to Smalltown, U.S.A., and represent the Marines as an institution, people look at us and say ‘those are Marines.’ We want that, and then the music speaks for itself. And, obviously, when you feel good and look good and we’re a platoon full of Marines who are physically fit, it can only enhance the music we create.”