FORT CARSON, Colo. — Capt. Rachel Martin, an AH-64 Apache pilot and Troop Commander with the 6th Air Cavalry Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, dominated the recent USA Powerlifting: Military, Police, and Firefighter National Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, winning first place in six categories – including squat, deadlift, and bench press.
This was Martin’s first national competition, and though she had great success, the road leading there was not easy.
“I have a ruptured disc in my lumbar region that I hurt during Survival-Evasion-Resistance-Escape (SERE) school years ago, so I have to be especially careful during training,” said Martin. “Because of that, I really learned to listen to my body. It’s my number one mantra.”
Martin has been lifting weights since 2013 but has only started competing in 2017. She has trained with patience, drive, and a tireless focus on exercising the right way. Because of her personal readiness, she performed exceptionally well and now has the opportunity as a leader to educate servicemembers around her with prime first-hand knowledge.
“It took a lot of time and hard work with special emphasis on proper form, technique, recovery and diet,” said Martin. “I hope to teach good form and habits to the Soldiers around me so that they not only continue achieving personally, but also find success in the Army Combat Fitness Test.
For many, and especially in the Army, time management can be a struggle. Many people find themselves without enough time to do everything they’d like, but when there’s a will, there’s a way.
Martin said, “Honestly, it’s quite difficult to train for my hobby and keep up with the day-to-day requirements of my job, but with anything you love, you make time.”
Martin made enough time to win first place in her weight class in open raw squat, open raw bench, open single bench press, open raw deadlift, open raw total, and open raw single deadlift.
6th Air Cav. Squad., 17th Cav. Reg. leadership understood Martin’s passion for the sport and full-heartedly supported her throughout the entire journey. Even while on rotation at the National Training Center, 6th Air Cav. Squad., 17th Cav. Reg. Command Sgt. Maj. John Bonilla permitted and encouraged her brining lifting equipment and training while off-shift. Also, Lt. Col. Kevin Kane, the 6th Air Cav. Squad., 17th Cav. Reg. Commander, approved Martin’s competition attendance even though it fell on the weekend she took command and the weekend before we started our Aerial Gunnery.
People first is a slogan, but it’s embedded in the 4th CAB culture. Being supportive, believing in, and helping one another is just instinct.
Martin said,” I’ve never felt like I belonged more to a team than my time serving in the Army. Every sport or competition I’ve ever taken part in doesn’t compare to the belongingness I’ve felt in army aviation, my squadron, or my troop.”
When Martin came back with six medals, she was met with overwhelming positivity.
“Most everyone in my unit knew I went and how well I did. I received a lot of congratulations when I returned,” said Martin. “Our brigade Chief Warrant Officer, Mr. Corsaro, even asked me to show him lifting techniques the very next time he saw me!”
Maj. Ryan Gibbons, 6th Air Cav. Squad., 17th Cav. Reg., Executive Officer, said, “She’s not a just strong in the gym, but also as a leader in this organization.”
It isn’t just her unit that has had her back though. The powerlifting community itself is known to be encouraging in nature. It’s the supportive, positive culture that drew and retained Martin into the sport of powerlifting.
“I love being strong, but the powerlifting community is special,” said Martin. “My favorite thing is that even at competitions, the other competitors are cheering for you. It’s one of the most supportive communities I’ve ever been a part of.”
The future for Martin is busier than ever, but she’s still setting goals.
Martin hopes to achieve the “1,000-pound club,” where the total weight lifted across the three lifts equals 1,000 pounds or more.
“Right now, I’m at 750lbs, but my goal is definitely 1,000. I will continue to improve and compete,” said Martin. “I also hope to spread good technique and recovery practices to the Soldiers in my squadron.”
She is now back at Fort Carson, leading Alpha Troop, 6th Air Cav. Squad., 17th Cav. Reg., 4th CAB, 4th Inf. Div., as positive and driven as ever.
“I’m blessed to be in this career field and look forward to the next 10 years of service. Best job I ever had,” said Martin.