By 2nd Lt. Justin Bishop, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.March 10, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HUNTER, Iraq - Within the base's fitness center here at any hour of the day, one will likely see a handful of the vibrant, red physical training t-shirts the Black Dragon troops are known for.
Soldiers of the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, also known as the 'Black Dragons,' coming off patrols or guard shifts during the early hours at this remote base on the southeastern border of Iraq, will commonly work out and lift twice their body weight in order to reach and maintain their fitness goals.
Being the strongest person in a section or battery is a sought-after title. The 5th Bn., 82nd FA Regt. The Black Dragon Soldiers who can successfully bench press at least 300 pounds, with proper technique, receive the '300-Pound Club Patch' that can be worn on the sleeve of their unit shirt.
"Benching 300 pounds was something that other guys were accomplishing that I knew I was capable of," said Sgt. Martin Nofziger, a Black Dragon Soldier from Pacifica, CA. He began this deployment with a 185-pound bench press and is now lifting more than 325 pounds.
"In my 19 years of service, I have never been in a unit where so many Soldiers have strived to be stronger and faster," said Staff Sgt. Zennie Peterson, a native of Pensacola, FL, who helped build and staff the facility. "I think this is due in large part to the battalion-level leadership and the fact that we know they will take care of us. Our physical well-being is just as important as theirs and we can easily see that."