Black Friday Descriptive

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Experiencing certain moments in life can have a lasting effect on our character, both rewarding and humbling. Black Friday serves as the initial day for Special Forces Assessment and Selection, where individuals who volunteer to serve in the elite Army Special Forces Green Berets are tested. Like those who came before me, I would soon face my own test of determination. The Camp Mackall airfield is situated near the primary training area, just a mile away.

The airfield is completely surrounded by a dense pine forest, giving the impression that this placement was intentional. The high levels of humidity during the summer season remove oxygen from the air. Interestingly, the airfield is always covered in dew and fog, enhancing the overall melancholic atmosphere. The runway itself appears neglected and serves as a reminder of a bygone era. Rusted and worn trucks from World War II are displayed behind a fence, serving as a constant reminder of the upcoming hardships that will be endured during week three. Despite its deceivingly pleasant scent, like that of a candle, the airfield provides a false sense of comfort that will soon be shattered.

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Before dawn, the training commenced without knowledge of the exact time due to the prohibition of wearing watches. The atmosphere was filled with the anticipation of 400 eager individuals prepared for the inevitable hardship that awaited us. The cacophony of blaring bullhorns and booming explosions overwhelmed any efforts to coordinate the large number of applicants. The jog to the airfield was deliberate yet unhurried, and it didn’t consume much time. Upon reaching the airfield, some last-minute guidance was provided, and the candidates were divided into groups and evenly dispersed across the field.

Green Berets from all over Fort Bragg gather, positioning themselves with fold out chairs, eagerly anticipating the torment of others as if it were a game. Some even have food, further exacerbating the misery of enduring seven days without normal meals. Suddenly, a local fire truck speeds by, blaring its horns and flashing lights, eventually parking right beside the group of candidates. Holding my rifle, I realize I am closest to the fire truck, curious about what will happen next. The excitement commences as an instructor provides a brief explanation of the initial “exercise.”

The seemingly simple task quickly became an overwhelming challenge that seemed never-ending. After falling face-first into the dirt, the fire truck directed its high pressure hose at me, leaving me with the choice to endure the stinging sensation or increase my speed. I crawled for what felt like an eternity until I heard a horn, signaling that this station was temporarily finished. I rose to my feet and made my way to the next station, where the task was a straightforward rifle exercise. With a rifle weighing only five pounds, the movements appeared effortless: lifting it over the head, bringing it down to the midsection, and repeating the motion.

After repeating the rifle exercise one hundred times, it felt as if the rifle weighed a hundred pounds. The next challenge involved lifting four hundred pound logs that were smooth and carried the scent of past candidates’ sweat. The goal was to lift the log as a team and then lower it onto the opposite shoulder. This event served as a test of everyone’s determination and reason for attending the course, but sadly some candidates started to give up. The sheer weight of the log, along with frustration towards fellow candidates, led some grown men to declare that they couldn’t handle it anymore.

The serene pine forest scenery was substituted by vividly simulated machine gun fire, detonating ammunition, and instructors closely observing any signs of vulnerability. It was during the moments between executing burpee long jumps and performing kettle bell swings that I caught a glimpse of an image that remains vivid in my memory to this day. The fire hose ejected water into the air, generating a mist, while the bursts of light from the machine guns illuminated the surroundings brilliantly. The three hundred candidates continued their relentless movement, displaying such energy and determination that served as a reminder of why I had embarked on this journey, granting me the strength to endure several more hours of excruciating agony.

The jog home was calm and fast, with grown men eager to eat good meals (MREs). The sheer happiness of being pushed to the point of complete discomfort and breaking through a mental barrier could be felt from every man present. As abruptly as it started, the day simply came to an end. Nothing else about Balck Friday is distinctive except for the traditional gut check. The pain, distractions, and ridicule were intended to eliminate the weak and keep the strong. Understanding this made me value making it through and now having the necessary tools to conquer life’s challenges.

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Black Friday Descriptive. (2016, Jul 17). Retrieved from

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