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Battalion recognizes Sailors for completing cycling challenge, kicks off Heroes to Home Challenge

Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Brannon Deugan

ROTA, Spain – Seabee Battalion recognized four Sailors for participating in a cycling challenge earlier in the year at Camp Mitchell on Naval Station Rota, Spain, Dec. 24, 2015.

The Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 S6, computer and information management, department conducted a 2,359 mile cross country cycling challenge on stationary bikes from March 25, 2015, to April 22, 2015, in Gulfport, Mississippi, during preparation for the current deployment.

With deployment nearing the end, the S6 department, led by Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Sunny Williamson, issued the “Heroes to Home Bike and Run Challenge” for all members of NMCB 1 deployed across the globe.

“Heroes to Home started as the next step in our drive to move forward with our advanced physical fitness here at NMCB 1,” said Williamson, from Graham, North Carolina. “We started this last year to see how people would react and what the end result would produce. It turned into a true team building event, and we all have been anxiously waiting to implement this with the entire command. It is a serious motivator for this NMCB 1 team, and so much that it is motivating others around us, which was our goal from the start. We all feel very proud of being a part of this challenge, and everyone is taking this on with an ‘all in, all the time’ dedication.”

Participants in the challenge will be able to complete miles on cardiovascular equipment (a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, etc.) or outdoors by running or bicycling to accumulate the 12,378 miles, the total distance from the two deployment sites of Rota, Spain, and Guam back to Gulfport, Mississippi.

“With this challenge you will see a big boost in teamwork as we all pull together to complete this challenge,” said Williamson. “There are 51 troops in this challenge, and we are all focused on the end goal. There are teams within the challenge, so I can tell you now that the competitive spirit will increase every day to push the limits, which will bring Sailors that wouldn’t normally do something like this to the front of the pack. Sailors need goals. With this challenge, we can achieve our goal, and somewhere along the way many of these Sailors will surprise even themselves with what they are capable of and take that onboard for this next year. So for me, the results I am betting we all will see out of this challenge are teamwork and self-motivation, which are two really key areas of being successful.”

The Heroes to Home challenge is also a chance to honor the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“In our first challenge, last year, we dedicated our NMCB 1 Communicator Bike Challenge to Information Systems Technician 1st Class Jared Day who was killed in action when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter (Extortion 17) was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011,” said Williamson. “Day is our silent COMMS [communication] warrior that will forever guard our NET [network].”

The communications team has decided to dedicate their miles and effort to the memory of the entire crew by going by the team name of “Extortion 17.”

The participants of the earlier cross country cycling challenge experienced improvement in overall fitness as well as developed stronger relationships within the department.

“The bike challenge we did as an S6 Shop was one of the best bonding experiences I’ve ever experienced in my career,” Information System Technician 1st Class Andrew Bankey, from Gulfport, Mississippi, “It brought our entire shop together with a shared goal in mind. I lost over 20 pounds and 2.5 inches off my waist to help me achieve one of my best physical readiness test scores.”

“My goals for this challenge are much like the last one: to bring our shop closer together while reaping the healthy benefits of physical competition,” said Bankey.

Shortly past midnight, the New Year had begun along with the start of the “Heroes to Home Bike and Run Challenge,” pools of sweat form on the floor mats of the Camp Mitchell gym as miles are quickly accumulating, and the anticipation of the challenge evolved to friendly competition among friends.

“The ball dropped at midnight, we all high-fived, and toasted the New Year, and to the gym I went,” said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Tony Juarez, from Bellevue, Nebraska. “I found half my ship family already geared up, and starting the New Year and challenge off right. It is a great feeling to have when your ship family is there to motivate and push you to make yourself better.”

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