By Spc. Angela LordenJune 16, 2016
Over 500 troops celebrated the U.S. Army's 241st Birthday and participated in a MWR 10k run as a showcase of the physical readiness of its Servicemembers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on June 14.
"Camp Arifjan and U.S. Army Central's commitment to putting these events on regularly helps to keep the force in shape and showcase the forces' fitness," said Marine Capt. Jorge Renjifo, a communications officer from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.
Renjifo crossed the finish-line first at 37 minutes and 57 seconds. He averaged a 6-minute mile pace, exceeding traditional military standards. Not only did he take advantage of a physical-training opportunity, his participation was his way of celebrating the camaraderie between the different military services.
"Being able to share the Army's Birthday, on an Army base, with Army Soldiers is special," the Marine said. "The United States Army is definitely one of the premier organizations in the world."
Some Servicemembers opted to ruck the 10k race, some in full military gear. Others chose to walk the distance in celebration of the day. One Soldier even carried an American Flag.
"I've tried to come out here to every 5k or 10k that MWR has put on," said Army Sgt. Joshua Proffitt, a Norwalk, California native and a physical therapy specialist with the 10th Combat Support Hospital, as the flag waved above his shoulders.
Proffitt carried the flag at stateside events as a member of Team Red White and Blue, a veteran's outreach program that centers around the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of veterans with a special focus on suicide prevention. Proffitt's wife sent him the flag so he could carry on the tradition of bearing the colors during running events at Camp Arifjan.
"It's to show that we are here to celebrate the U.S. Army's Birthday, he said. "What better way to show support for that than to carry the stars and stripes."
A black ribbon also dangled from the flag's mast. "SSG Gonzales," was stitched in thick, yellow embroidery.
"The ribbon is for Staff Sgt. Miguel Gonzales Jr.," Proffitt said. "He was my senior medic back in my engineer unit. He died back in 2012, so I carry this in honor of him."
Proffitt believed Gonzales was the epitome of a U.S. Army Soldier.
"He was absolutely green to the core," he said. "He loved physical fitness. He loved discipline. He loved the Army. And he instilled that in his Soldiers, especially me."
For Servicemembers, discipline often goes hand in hand with physical readiness and resilience.
"Physical readiness is all about being resilient enough to continue to push when you're tired," Renjifo said. "By being physically ready, that keeps you all the more prepared for dealing with inevitabilities and still being able to make good decisions. In my case, being able to lead Marines. In everyone else's case, being able to continue to push to accomplish the mission."
Military personnel at Camp Arifjan have many opportunities to foster and develop this readiness to become better leaders.
"Camp Arifjan, Kuwait in general just has a lot of great amenities and has a really good culture that is conducive towards developing physically, mentally and spiritually," said Renjifo.
USARCENT's continued support of the U.S. Army's 241-year commitment to nation, mission and improving Soldier readiness.
"The Army is what provided us our freedom back in 1775," Proffitt said. "[The Army Birthday celebration] is representative of how we've continued on and grow as a country... A symbol of freedom, liberty, hope and opportunity."