While most neighbors surrounding Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base were still on their first cup of coffee or checking traffic conditions before leaving on a morning commute, personnel at the JFTB were already out and about.
On entering the installation from the front gate at Lexington Dr., the Veterans Center and credit union are to the left.
After a turn left at the first intersection, a stop sign controls through-traffic to allow pedestrians to cross to and from a measured two-mile track that hugs the Base’s northern perimeter.
East beyond the stop sign, a bivouac in the north field is brightly lit this particular rainy morning before sunrise.
A short line of military vehicles is carefully parked nose-in along the track.
Even early in the morning, that track is used by Base personnel as part of required PT — physical training.
Also frequent runners are cadets from Sunburst Youth ChalleNGe Academy, a tenant on the Base. As members of the Academy’s run club, male and female cadets get up early as part of their own PT and discipline training.
The goal: to qualify for a ten-mile beach run at the end of their Academy stay.
From the intersection, traffic entering the base increases as 6 a.m. marches towards 7 a.m. The traffic bump on Lexington is easy to pick out even in the dark as headlights point up, and then down.
This morning, a light spitting rain comes and goes.
Water puddles on uneven asphalt.
Thirty-three female cadets and about twice that many male cadets — easily visible with reflective belts and flashlights — jog over from the Academy barracks on the west side of the Base to run eight miles. No stopping. No walking.
The reward: qualifying for that beach run — and feeling a huge rush of accomplishment.
The cadets are accompanied by civilian mentors and Academy cadre members to monitor the qualifying run.
Bunched at the start, the cadets soon spread out. After running to the end of the track and doubling back, each cadet yells out their Platoon’s name and their own surname — not stopping although some bounce in place — before heading back down the track.
A male cadre member checks off the male cadet names. A female cadre member checks off the female cadet names, helped by a female cadet who disqualified herself in short order, with good humor.
To qualify for the beach run, a cadet must run four laps — checked by cadre members — without stopping or walking.
Class Ten — this class of cadets — will graduate on Monday, Dec. 10, at 9:30 a.m. at Cottonwood Christian Center.
A good chunk of those cadets will have run ten miles on the beach with broad smiles, as just one of a long list of accomplishments made possible through skills, training, education and discipline learned at Sunburst Youth ChalleNGe Academy.
The Academy is currently accepting applications for female cadets for Class Eleven, starting in 2013.
Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel of a bivouac in the northwest field at Los Alamitos JFTB. If you visited for Wings, Wheels, Rotors and Expo in October, chances are good that you parked in the same field before walking to the airfield entrance.
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