FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Spc. Benjamin Ritchie came to Fort Jackson with the same hope as many others -- to start his Army career on the right path by excelling at Basic Combat Training.
On Oct. 21 he became the first Basic Combat Training trainee to record a perfect score of 600 points on the Army's new physical fitness test.
Ritchie maxed all six events on Army Combat Fitness Test, making him the third Soldier in the Army to earn a perfect score. The San Antonio native, is assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, the "River Raiders."
The battalion is one of two on Fort Jackson participating in the Army's 'field test' where trainees take the ACFT during the ninth week of training.
Ritchie, an 09S -- Officer Candidate, said what ultimately brought him success was his personal dedication to physical fitness and the consistent guidance and support of his unit leadership.
"We didn't do anything special," Ritchie said about his preparations. "I trusted my drill sergeants and did my best."
Ritchie was unable to max his initial diagnostic Army Physical Fitness Test, the soon to be legacy fitness test. For the following nine weeks, he performed regularly scheduled physical readiness training according to the BCT program of instruction and ate the regular meals provided by the dining facility and by the end of basic training, he was able to max both the APFT and ACFT.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Delgado, a senior drill sergeant in Ritchie's company, said the training was the same as every other cycle.
"There were no special fitness coaches, diets, or focused ACFT workouts," Delgado said. "Hard work and motivation -- that's our 'special sauce.' Once you get the trainees to buy-in to what you're doing, they will achieve whatever you put in front of them."
The company and battalion focused on creating an environment for the trainees to excel. They placed pull-up bars in easily accessible locations; encouraged trainees to conduct physical training in their free time; planned time to familiarize trainees with the ACFT in the evenings; and encouraged friendly, peer-to-peer competition.
The results speak for themselves as Ritchie maxed the test while two other trainees in the battalion scored above 590.
Lt. Col. Randall Wenner, 3-60th commander, said he is excited about the new direction of the ACFT and the work the battalion has put into its implementation.
"There are naysayers out there about the new test, specifically due to injury," he said. "We have tested over 2,800 trainees with zero injuries. Ritchie's performance along with the performance of other trainees also sends a message -- excellence in the ACFT is attainable for everyone. The Army needs adaptable Soldiers. A fit Soldier is an adaptable Soldier."
"We proved that when we asked trainees, who have been focusing on the APFT for graduation, to take the ACFT in week nine," he added. "Focusing on fitness gives Soldiers the tools to excel, regardless of the test."
Ritchie, Co. A., 3rd Battalion 60th Infantry Regiment, and Fort Jackson have shown proper training and motivation produce outstanding results.
(Editor's note: 1st Lt. Ivan Conchas is a platoon leader in Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. Ritchie and his battalion graduated Basic Combat Training Oct. 24.He is headed to Fort Benning, Georgia for Officer Candidate School)