By Lt. Col. Matt Garner, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsNovember 10, 2009
KAILUA, Hawaii (Nov. 10, 2009) -- Many people take a walk around the neighborhood as a way to end their evening; very, very few of them end their strolls 100 miles later.
Lt. Col. Jack Usrey, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command G-1, or personnel officer, started walking at 9 p.m. Oct. 28, as a way to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his double-knee replacement surgery. He finished 100 miles later on Saturday afternoon - a walk that spanned 67 hours and 15 minutes.
"I had an airborne jump accident back in 1997 that finally caught up with me," Usrey said. "When I got back from my last deployment my doctor said I had to have both knees replaced. He wanted to do one at a time, with a year between replacement surgeries, but I knew I didn't have time for that so I asked him to do both."
Usrey said that the recovery from the surgery was a long, painful process so he wanted to bring closure to this chapter of his life and decided to challenge himself both physically and mentally.
"The first few months of the recovery process were pretty ugly," he said. "In fact, one of my knees locked up from the scar tissue and the doctors had to go back in two months later to break it up. About the six month mark, things started improving, and about 16 weeks ago I decided to do this walk."
The idea for the 100-mile walk came from Sgt. Maj. Ben Cavazos, a former Army Male Athlete of the Year. Usrey worked alongside Cavazos at the 8th Human Resources Support Center. Cavazos is also a member of the Hawaii Ultra Running Team, known as H.U.R.T., and regularly runs 100-mile races. Usrey decided that the 100-mile distance would be a worthy goal for his celebratory walk.
The walk took a lot of planning and preparation as well as a lot of help from family and friends. It also involved a lot of pain and perseverance.
His doctor, Lt. Col. Gregory Lee, Tripler Army Medical Center, took a couple of days to ponder the idea before giving his approval for the walk. Lee performed Usrey's dual-knee replacement surgery a year ago.
Lee joined Usrey at the beginning of the walk, at mile 50, then finished out the trek with his former patient, whom he says is an inspiration to him and others who have had knee-replacement surgery.
"His whole mental attitude is really what got him through it," Lee said. "I had a really enjoyable time just walking with him and talking. These surgeries were actually made to make a person more active, so there is no reason to just sit around. I wish more of my patients were like this."
Usrey's course started and stopped at his home in Kailua. He took two main loops, one past Kailua Beach Park along the ocean and through Lanikai and the other toward the back gate of Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.
He started walking at night to minimize his time in the sun and to give him much-needed mental breaks when the sun came up each day.
At the end of each loop, Usery stopped at home for food, water, a change of socks and some much-needed, although all-too-short, naps in the early mornings. His wife, Cindy, was there with him every step of the way.
"His spirits were great on the last lap," she said. "Being surrounded by family and friends gave him some extra energy to finish it out. I'm very proud of him."
Usrey said completing the 100-mile walk was a humbling experience and was relieved that it was over.
"I wanted to honor my mother, who's had both hips and knees replaced, and I wanted to set an example for my kids and my Soldiers that shows whatever life throws at you, you just need to fight back."