ROBERTSON BARRACKS, Australia – Marines were gasping for air as they finished their final lap in the pool. For the past three hours, they’d been tested mentally and physically to see which one among them was the best, but their day has just begun.
One Marine stood out from the rest, outperforming his peers in nearly all the events.
It was no easy task for Cpl. Christopher Ginnow, a squad leader with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force Darwin, to set himself apart from his peers during a meritorious sergeant board here April 17.
“These are the best corporals we have in the battalion,” said Sgt. Maj. Rogelio De Leon, the rotational force’s sergeant major. “It keeps me motivated knowing that I have to keep up with these guys on a day-to-day basis.”
The Marines conducted a physical fitness test, a 200-meter swim and a rope climb as part of the competition for meritorious promotion. The physical fitness test included pull-ups, crunches and a three-mile run with burpees -- an exercise that combines push-ups and squat jumps -- thrown into the mix.
“By the time we did the rope climb, I was pretty fatigued, and I barely made it up,” said Ginnow, a native of Redondo Beach, Calif. “Climbing a rope while under a tremendous amount of pressure is no easy task.”
Ginnow has been a corporal for more than two years, and has spent a lot of time preparing for the sergeants board. “After work each day, I would go out and practice my drill instead of relaxing,” he said. “I was always preparing physically for this as well. I love constantly testing myself.”
After the fitness test, the Marines moved on to a written test that included questions about weapon systems and Marine Corps regulations.
“We want to really test these guys physically, but also mentally, so they know they have earned that next rank,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Rivera, the rotational force’s operations chief. “We wanted to make this challenging for these guys, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The day concluded with a uniform inspection and a verbal exam encompassing questions about proper uniform regulations and general orders.
“These boards are really about the whole-Marine concept,” said Rivera. “We want a Marine that encompasses everything from being physically fit to being mentally fit as well.”
Ginnow will be a squad leader during his deployment here as the Marines conduct unilateral and bilateral training with the Australian defense force during their six-month rotation. He finished the day exhausted, but feeling highly accomplished, he said.
“I can’t say how relieved I am to have won this,” he said. “I know I’m ready for the next rank, and all the work I have put into this has been worth it.”