Officer a perfect example of Marine physical fitness

Maj. Dean R. Keck, division ordnance officer for 3rd Marine Division, gets in his pull-ups during a pre-dawn workout. Keck has never run anything less than a perfect 300 PFT since joining the Marine Corps in 1984.


Maj. Dean Keck has earned maximum score on every PFT taken in 20 years

By FRED ZIMMERMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 13, 2006

CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa — Marine Maj. Dean Keck is a PT stud.

While not many people can say they’re perfect some of the time, let alone always, Keck honestly can say he’s been nothing but perfect when it comes to physical fitness.

Since joining the Marine Corps in 1984, Keck, the division ordnance officer of 3rd Marine Division, has scored a perfect 300 points on every semi-annual physical fitness test he’s taken — 43 altogether, his latest on Jan. 11.

He’s not sure if it’s a Marine Corps record. He said he’s heard of others running perfect scores for 20 years, but he has all his test certificates to prove his mettle.

A perfect score requires doing 100 crunches in two minutes, 20 dead-hang pull-ups and three miles in less than 18 minutes.

Some may think Keck is a freak of nature, but he said he maintains his perfection with a dedicated physical training regimen.

“I PT every day, no matter what,” he said in an e-mail interview. “I make it happen whenever, wherever.”

His weekly routine includes three- to four-mile runs Mondays through Fridays and a four-mile walk on Saturday. Keck also pumps out 126 pull-ups, 825 crunches and about 750 leg-lifts each week. He even hits the weight room for 30 minutes of training three days a week

His best three-mile run time in his 20-plus years was 14:56; his worst was 16:40.

Has he ever come close to not being perfect?

“Never but every single time I run a PFT I wonder if this is going to the one that I don’t make it, for different reasons,” he said.

One adjustment Keck had to make for physical fitness tests came in 1996 when the Marine Corps announced that “kipping” — kicking your legs to produce momentum to get over the bar — no longer could be used when performing pull-ups.

“I worked six months getting ready for the transition,” said Keck, who currently weighs in at 180 pounds. “Long arms are tough for pull-ups; I’m 6-foot 4-inches.”

Many have asked Keck his secret. He said there isn’t one.

“You just need to get out on the road and train,” he said. “Get out there three to four times a week and practice … nothing magical is going to happen if you don’t.”

Keck said he also stays in shape by watching what he eats. But he confessed that he loves sweets and will splurge on the weekends.

“One of the reasons I run is so I can eat what I want,” he said.

Since coming to Okinawa in July 2004, Keck has worked hard to get his Marines to improve their physical conditioning. When with Combat Assault Battalion on Camp Schwab, the major said he required his Marines to train every Monday and Wednesday, and on Fridays he would run the fitness test course with them.

He said when he ran his last test there, almost all of his Marines commented they scored their best ever, or best since boot camp.

Keck said he tries to instill in his young troops that being a Marine is a physical profession.

“You need to be able to run five miles, drop down into the prone position and with a steady hand, be able to shoot the enemy at 500 meters. If you can’t do that, those to your right and left have to pick up your slack. That’s what it’s all about.”

Maj. Dean R. Keck, division ordnance officer for 3rd Marine Division, does crunches at 5:30 a.m. Friday on Camp Courtney. Keck works out six days a week.