Nick Rinell is a U.S. Marine Sergeant stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Sergeant Rinell was the recipient of Certificates of Commendation in 2009 and 2011, and was a Distinguished Graduate of the SNCOA Sergeant’s Course in 2012. As a U.S. Marine and a veteran of combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 and 2009, Nick is no stranger to a challenge. This is Nick’s account of his GoRuck Challenge experience.
December 8th, Okinawa, Japan: GORUCK Challenge Class #347
by Nicholas Lee Rinell // Images courtesy of Look Left Pictures
Due to military curfews, our GoRuck Challenge would get an early start, at 0700. GoRuck HQ worked with us to make this happen. My neighbor Jason, and our friend Thomas piled into my car and headed to the barracks to pick up Rafael. After picking him up, we drove southbound to Naminoue Beach, where the day’s Challenge would begin. After getting slightly lost (I prefer to say we took the scenic route), we stopped off at a Family Mart for one last head call, and to pick up some post-challenge drinks. Unfortunately for us, no military personnel in Okinawa are allowed to drink off-base, so we all grabbed Aquarius. (Read: gift from the heavens for those that have not been to Okinawa yet)
We parked the car, unloaded, started to put together guidons, attached flags, and made our way down to the beach to meet the members of our team whom we didn’t know. We were also forced to worry about the fact that our Japanese flag had not arrived yet.
As we started introductions (name, marital status, kids, place of birth), “Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development” began with the FORMING. A couple guys in black hats with GoRuck Tough patches walked up. They had done the GRC held in May and came out to see us off. A guy in black ranger panties, a red shirt that said “I like Asian girls” and black hat with a GBF patch on it walked up wearing a ruck. The Japanese flag was still MIA.
Cadre Garett Noon, our Green Beret Cadre for the day, had us sign our death waivers and conduct PCI (pre-combat inspections). He conducted a quick drill and ceremonies class… because Garett fucking hates drills and ceremonies.
Now that we knew how to stand in two ranks, the welcome party/Visit to the Zoo with Cadre Garett began. Garett chose two of our class mates, Jason and Thomas, to serve as Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader. Flutter kicks, sprints to submerge ourselves in the ocean, monkey fuckers, crab walks, bear crawls, elephant walks, and more. Exercises to get us to begin to work like a team. At this point we were working through the STORMING phase of Tuckman’s stages of group development, with the goal being that we get to the NORMING stage rapidly.
After approximately 90 minutes (no watches allowed, so this is as best as we could determine from what our shadows told us at the end) we took a 10 minute break. During this break, I wolfed down my 2nd Clif Bar of the day, and ate my second bag of power bar gel bites and, we learned that the rules ALWAYS apply ALL OF THE TIME, so we made sugar cookies prior to stepping off.
Sometime during the welcome party Cadre Garett told us something that I will never forget… OK, two things I will never forget:
1.) You are only as strong as your weakest link, but you are always stronger WITH them than without!
2.) PRSCC! Planning, Reconnaissance, Security, Communications, Common Sense!
Lesson #2 covers the five principles of patrolling. Lesson #1 May have been best embodied by our slowest runner… the only one on our team who spoke Japanese!
Elaina and another team member were picked for Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader next. They were given their mission, and details about expectations. All I will offer about the next several hours (read: 8 hours 30 minutes) are these few things:
1.) I love the straps to my pack in what many will consider to be an unnatural way!
2.) Jason Caro is a motivator
3.) Chris and Josh are machines (Josh did a CrossFit WOD the day following our challenge)
3.) Logs suck
4.) Sticking together is crucial!
5.) Thank God for our Japanese speaker!
Eventually we made our way to a garden/broken down pavilion relatively close to our starting point. Garett told us we had finally acquired enough supplies to build our defense that would help us to fend off the zombies/Nazis/or what the fuck ever was out to get us. He also took this time to give us a history lesson about Asian calisthenics. He turned on some weird ass Asian elevator music, and we began our Asian calisthenics routine. We finished with one final push-up …
When I say “DOWN” you say “GORUCK!”
When I say “UP”, you say “TOUGH!”
“GoRuck!” … “Tough!!”
We were now, GoRuck Tough.
I had carried a GoRuck shirt and sharpie with me, so I asked Cadre Garett to sign the shirt first, followed by the rest of my team.
Donald (he shadowed us to take picture and log miles) informed us we had gone 15.33 miles in 8.5 hours. Before we all put our rucks back on and went our separate ways, we hung out as a team. We talked, we shared stories and we relaxed for a while… now as GoRuck Tough alumni of class 347.