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Redondo Beach Native Leads Brutal Military Mental and Physical Test

“I can’t say how relieved I am to have won this,” said Cpl. Christopher Ginnow.

Cpl. Christopher Ginnow. Photo credit: Cpl James Gulliver
Cpl. Christopher Ginnow. Photo credit: Cpl James Gulliver
By Cpl. James Gulliver

ROBERTSON BARRACKS, Northern Territory, Australia – Marines were gasping for air as they finished their final lap in the pool. For the past three hours they have been tested mentally and physically to see which one among them is 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 and a Redondo Beach native – Darwin to set himself apart from his peers during a meritorious sergeant board here, April 17, 2014.

“These are the best corporals we have in the battalion,” said Sgt. Maj. Rogelio De Leon, the sergeant major of MRF-D. “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 thrown into the mix.

“By the time we did the rope climb, I was pretty fatigued and I barely made it up,” said Ginnow. “Climbing a rope while under a tremendous amount of pressure is no easy task.”

Ginnow has held the rank of corporal for more than two years now and 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 perform a written test that included multiple 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, operations chief, MRF-D. “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 performing as a squad leader during his deployment to Australia, playing a vital role in Marine Rotational Force – Darwin. The Marines with MRF-D will conduct unilateral training and bilateral training with the Australian Defence Force in the Northern Territory and at existing ADF facilities during the six-month rotation.

Ginnow finished the day exhausted but feeling highly accomplished.

“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.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story first appeared in the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System website and is reprinted here with permission. 

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