YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — On a scorching day when most would prefer to find themselves inside with the air conditioner on high, 45 U.S. and Japanese troops put themselves through some vigorous physical challenges for a good cause.
The 40 servicemembers from Yokota and five members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force participated in the second annual 9/11 Memorial Combat Endurance Challenge to raise money for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum being built at the World Trade Center site.
The competition was comprised of a three-mile course that included an ammo-can carry, Humvee push, injured-airman carry, low crawl and a ruck sack run.
For days leading up to Saturday’s event, each five-person team collected donations. The team that collected the most money could pick the time of day it would compete in the challenge, said the event’s organizer, 1st Lt. Kurtis Snyder. Each team ran at a different hour of the day so that only one team was on the course at a time.
And the time of day did matter.
“The excruciating, painful heat of the day killed us,” Airman 1st Class Lucas Ebben said of his team’s noontime run.
As difficult as it was, participants were not lacking in motivation.
“It’s great someone can do something to put a foot forward to help out … and help remember the people that were lost,” Senior Airman Matthew Ford said.
Snyder said that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were "a big reason" why he joined. “It’s why many are here today.”
A team from the 374th Medical Group, with a 9 a.m. start, won the competition with a time of 50 minutes, 32 seconds.
However, it was the 7 a.m. team from 730th Maintenance Group that raised the most money — $500 of the $2,600 collected by all the teams.