The Corps' Most Jacked Marines Can Soon Get a Trophy From the Commandant

Lance Cpl. Christopher Talbot, with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, curls a 50-pound dumbbell in Iraq. The Marine Corps will soon begin handing out awards for superior physical fitness. (Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson/Marine Corps)
Lance Cpl. Christopher Talbot, with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, curls a 50-pound dumbbell in Iraq. The Marine Corps will soon begin handing out awards for superior physical fitness. (Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson/Marine Corps)

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- Do you even lift, bro?

Marine PT studs are finally about to get some recognition outside the gym, as service leaders begin handing out individual and unit-level awards to the fittest leathernecks around.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has signed off on a plan to give Marines who earn perfect 300s on their combat and physical fitness tests certificates of commendation. The top general will also honor the unit or squadron with best overall combined PFT and CFT scores with a trophy for Superior Fitness at an annual awards ceremony.

"I think it's a way to challenge the Marines on an individual level, but also to bring some unit cohesion to it and really get commanders behind the program so they know, 'If my unit does well enough, we might be recognized by the commandant as the unit [for] superior fitness across the Marine Corps,'" said Col. Stephen Armes, director of the Marine Corps' Force Fitness Division.

A service-wide administrative message announcing the new fitness prizes is in the works, Armes added. The first awards will be handed out in 2019.

About 1,200 Marines earned perfect scores on both of their annual fitness tests in 2017. Those will be the first Marines to receive certificates of commendation that will be included in their official records.

Any unit led by a lieutenant colonel will be eligible for the Superior Fitness trophy. That award will look at a unit's combined total PFT and CFT scores. Since the deadline for that award is in the fall -- before CFT season wraps up, Armes said the first one will recognize scores from the 2018 PFT and the 2017 CFT.

Neller added a couple of big rules to up the ante for units or squadrons eyeing that prize. If a unit has even one Marine who fails either test, Armes said the group will be automatically disqualified from competing. And any Marines who are supposed to take a fitness test but don't will receive zeros, which will bring down their units’ total score.

"Everyone's got to pass it," Armes said.

Neller has long pushed the idea of Marines as "warrior athletes," whose mental and physical strength makes them more lethal, resistant and capable on the battlefield.

"These were our ways of taking his intent and recognizing the individual Marine and the unit," Armes said. "We tried ... to provide some competition and award them for their work."

--Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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