COATESVILLE, Pa. - U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers lined up just after the start line waiting for the "GO!" As it was shouted, the Tough Mudders poured through. The Soldiers cheered and high-fived as they passed.
One of the Soldiers, Pvt. Anthony Diamanti, a military and civilian firefighter, felt the excitement radiating from the Tough Mudders as they participated in Tough Mudder Philly, Oct. 17-18.
"It was great. I had a lot of fun interacting with the participants, especially at the start area, getting them pumped up at the Berlin Wall, helping them up that first hill to the Berlin Wall, getting to coax them through it. It was fun," said Diamanti, a Soldier with the 369th Engineer Detachment (Firefighting).
Soldiers from the 369th, along with three other units local to Philadelphia, volunteered to cheer on Tough Mudders due to one of the event sponsors being the U.S. Army Reserve.
"It's good to get interactions with other units outside of mine so I can see how to interact with (noncommissioned officers) and officers from different areas," said Diamanti.
The Berlington, New Jersey, native, has impressed his leadership in the short time since he joined the Army Reserve.
"Diamanti: a nice, young, high-speed, brand-new Soldier who's been in the Army for about a year," said Sgt. Raymond Nicholson, a firefighter with the 369th Eng. Det. "He came in wondering how to be an Army firefighter and we showed him how to do it. So now he's an Army firefighter and he's a civilian firefighter."
Originally, firefighting was not what Diamanti had in mind.
"Since I was young I always wanted to serve. Originally I wanted to be an infantryman, but as I got older I started looking at career options and I'm a volunteer firefighter as well," he said. "That's something I want to do for the rest of my life so I figured what better way could I become a good firefighter than to become a great Soldier. They both kind of cross into each other."
Diamanti pursued his dream and became a firefighter, but didn't expect the impact from his military training.
"It's definitely enhanced his civilian side. For his age you start out as a probationary firefighter and when we started training him he had just learned," said Nicholson. "We sent him to Goodfellow Air Force Base for the firefighter training. He came out firefighter one and firefighter two certified. So when he came back to his civilian side, he was now literally a master firefighter."
Diamanti expected to be helping people by fighting fires after he completed his schooling. He never expected to help them in other ways through the military.
"I completely expected a whole lot of (physical fitness) and all that, but I never expected to be working with the community and impact people's lives as much as I am," said Diamanti. "It makes me feel proud."
Nicholson believes events like Tough Mudder strengthen new Soldiers like Diamanti.
"(Coming to volunteer at an event like Tough Mudder) gives them that extra motivation, it reminds them why they became a Soldier to begin with because we all seem to forget," said Nicholson. "When you join, you go through basic training, you're getting yelled at. You go to (Advanced Individual Training), you're kind of getting yelled at. So, by the time you get back across the tracks you forget what that is, then you see all the young and impressionable faces that are thanking you. That's important. That brings back the motivation that you need. Just those simple "thank yous" brings all the motivation back."
That motivation shows in Diamanti as he expressed what he has taken away from volunteering at Tough Mudder.
"Never quit," said Diamanti. "No matter what you do, just don't quit because as long as you're trying, you'll eventually get it. You'll eventually do what you want to do."