SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Age is just a number. That's the indirect message Maj. Terry Martin, age 51, and Maj. Brian Young, age 40, gave after completing the rigorous three-week-long Sabalauski Air Assault School,Schofield Barracks Lightning Academy, recently.
Martin and Young, both U.S. Army Active Guard Reserve leaders who work full time at the 9th Mission Support Command, surpassed the physical standards expected of men in their 40s and 50s and pushed themselves to graduate from the coveted Army school - one often completed by Soldiers in their early to mid-20s.
Both officers spoke to their challenges during the course and how they overcame them.
"Sling loads were the most challenging since this was the first time I had hands-on with this type of equipment," said Young. "However, the best advice I received before arriving was to not take anything for granted. Listen to the instructors, do exactly as they say, use your time wisely, and show up every day ready."
Martin felt not disadvantaged by his age, but rather advantaged to better comprehend the training by the perspective of a bigger picture, of having life and Army experience and therefore, understanding.
"What is different about us being older is I get it from a different perspective, more strategic, just like going through Basic Training at 32, I see the bigger picture of why, how down the road it's for combat and deployment and why we need to know and do," he said. "I've been deployed a couple of times, and I have been to advanced officer training, so this is an advantage in perspective."
Martin's advice for anyone looking to challenge themselves and tackle physically and mentally demanding Army schools such as Air Assault?
"I think you should join a Cross Fit program or other training as you prepare, try to get in the best shape that you can because there are standards you have to meet and you have to do what you can to prepare, don't let anything stop you, gender, age, where you are in the Army, I have seen others go through it too," he said.
"Don't let yourself or other people hold you back. There will be people that say you are too old, but, if you train well and that is what your goal is and what you want to do, you should do it," Martin said. "Manage your own career."
Young had similar advice for anyone considering the course, at any age.
"Go for it! ... It will only make you a better Soldier," he said. "For me, this was the first time I had the opportunity and the timing was right, so I decided to challenge myself physically and mentally. It was a great experience. I love this profession!"
After all this training, neither Martin nor Young plan to slow down. Young next heads to the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) for a year at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. And Martin also has plans.
"My next goal will be to go Airborne," Martin said. "I already completed my airborne physical and I hope when I get to Fort Bragg (his next duty station with Civil Affairs) that I can get slotted for a class, if it's in my career path, it will happen."