The 1st Air and Space Communications Operations Squadron is known for pushing boundaries, as evidenced by the motto emblazoned over their shield “The Best Done Better,” but the 1 ACOS Airmen have decided to challenge themselves to push in a different way.
Beginning October 2016, Airmen assigned to the 1 ACOS have challenged themselves to complete 435,000 pushups by June 2018.
“The pushup challenge is something I took away from one of my deployments,” said Maj. Eddie Edwards Jr., 1 ACOS commander. “On my way to Iraq, I passed through Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and the 379th Communications Squadron was doing a pushup challenge. They were doing 379,000 pushups.
“I thought that was pretty neat and a pretty good way to build camaraderie,” he continued. “Obviously, we’re all supposed to be fit to fight and being in the desert you need some kind of goal to focus on.”
The 379 CS chose their goal because of their unit’s designation, so similarly Edwards thought the 1 ACOS should follow suit and initially suggested they aim for completing 100,000 pushups.
“They were also the 379th (Air Expeditionary Wing), so I thought why don’t we do the 435th (Air Ground Operations Wing)?” Edwards recalled. “I also did the math, and it wouldn’t take us too long to do 100,000 pushups. So, 435th (AGOW) is the right way to go.
“I asked the squadron and this was agreed upon by them,” he continued. “It was not a directive or an order from me.”
Thus, they added the additional pushups to their goal.
“When Maj. Edwards first brought this to the squadron at our weekly meeting, I was like, ‘435,000 pushups?!’” said Airman 1st Class Garielle Curtis, 1 ACOS client systems technician and unit physical training leader. “I could never imagine doing that, but when you break it down and consider everyone doing it as a team, it’s very feasible. It’s not so farfetched.”
With approximately 100 Airmen participating, Edwards and his team estimate that each person would need to do about 600 pushups a month to reach their goal.
Every month, a point of contact for each flight reports their monthly total of pushups to Curtis so she can track the squadron’s progress. With approximately 15 months left until they reach their deadline, the 1 ACOS has already achieved 37 percent of their total goal.
Though they are working as a team, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some friendly competition between the flights within the 1 ACOS. Operating under a two-person integrity system, flights are able to count pushups that are done during the PT sessions, physical fitness assessments, and even random pushups done within their offices.
“They’ll only count if another Airman saw you do them,” Curtis said.
As of February 2017, the 1 ACOS Storage Virtualization Shop (SCOO) leads the flights in total pushups done.
“Storage admin guys never really see the light of day unless we take lunch,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Flores, 1 ACOS client systems technician and unit fitness program manager. “Generally, we are eating lunch at our desk, so working off some calories doing some pushups can do us some good.”
Though there isn’t a reward other than bragging rights set for the flight that contributes the most pushups toward the 435,000 goal, individuals and even flights do still benefit from the competition.
“I do self PT outside of squadron PT, and I hate arm days,” Curtis said. “I have a wingman in the shop who cranks them out. He loves doing pushups. He’s always like, ‘Well if I do this many, you do one-third of what I do.’ That’s encouragement and forces me to work my arms out.”
As members of a communications squadron, many of the Airmen assigned to the 1 ACOS are often sitting in a windowless building at a computer for much of the day.
“Having a pushup break, or an exercise break if you will, is a way to break up the day, the routine,” Edwards said. “Again, it’s healthy competition amongst the work centers. It’s also a way to have some fun.”
The challenge was designed to be an internal test for the 1 ACOS, but with them paying homage to the 435 AGOW already, Edwards also welcomes leaders and other units from the wing to join in on the fun.
“Hopefully, when we invite wing leadership over or have them out to PT, maybe we can get Col. (Andra) Kniep, (435 AGOW commander), and Chief (Master Sgt. Samuel) Simmons, (435 AGOW command chief), to contribute some pushups,” Edwards said.
“If the (435th Contingency Response Group) or the (2nd Air and Space Operations Squadron) wants to come do PT with us, they are more than welcomed to join us and do some pushups,” Edwards added. “I know they have (tactical air control party Airmen) and the battlefield Airmen, but I’d put my Airmen up against them any day.”
Though challenging the other units in their wing would be an added benefit, Edwards really wants his team to focus on the real accomplishment.
“The real goal for me is to reach the goal before I do the change of command (in June 2018),” he said. “It’s about setting a goal and achieving it. 435,000 pushups by roughly 100 Airmen. That’s quite a goal to set.”