FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - The 3rd Chemical Brigade presented the importance of physical fitness, Tuesday, during Fort Leonard Wood's celebration of the Year of the NCO.

"Success in combat is dependent on our physical strength and endurance," said Command Sgt. Maj. Sheridon Richardson, 3rd Chem. Bde.

The presentation came in the form of live and taped personal testimonies from noncommissioned officers and Soldiers. Many speakers shared the importance of
physical fitness and how NCOs in their past had mentored and inspired them towards better physical fitness.

Several NCOs emphasized that physical fitness is about more than just the Army Physical Fitness Test.

"It's about functional fitness, not just the PT test," said Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Lathan, Sapper Leader Course instructor. "It's about accomplishing the mission."
Other speakers talked about the NCO's role in physical fitness training.

"The most important role is to be visible and to lead from the front," said Command Sgt. Maj. John Hawley, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment.

Privates in basic combat training shared their perspective on physical fitness.

"The drill sergeants led from the front, which instilled a lot of trust," said Spc. Riggs Hayes.

Pvt. Louis Fountain shared how drill sergeants kept him from quitting during BCT and helped him improve his fitness. He went from 39 pushups, 39 sit-ups and a 19-minute two-mile run, to 65 pushups, 71 sit-ups and a sub-16 minute run.

Pvt. Tai Lloyd shared how her drill sergeant encouraged her to "give 300 percent, because that's the max score on the APFT."

Sgt. Kiet Christensen, Warrior Transition Unit, shared how physical fitness helped him overcome injuries sustained in Iraq.

"Physical fitness is the reason I stand before you today," Christensen said.
Christensen was in the turret when his hummvee rolled three times in Iraq. Both his lungs collapsed, he broke his pelvis and one leg and developed compartment syndrome, where his entire body swelled up.

It took 72 hours to stabilize Christensen so they could fly him out of the country, during which time his heart stopped beating three times. He needed 57 pints of blood and spent two months in an intensive care unit.

"The doctors said that if I hadn't been in the shape I was in, I wouldn't have survived that accident," Christensen said.

More Year of the NCO events are scheduled for each month the rest of 2009.