At some point during nursing school I learned the 2-5-1 method of doing after action reports. Two introductions, five fingers, and one take away.
Two Introductions: Who you are & Summary of the experience
I have completed two lights and the Pearl Harbor Memorial was my first Challenge/Tough. My second light I completed a week before this event. It was a GORUCK Thanksgiving Light in Phoenix.
Completing a GORUCK Challenge has been a goal since learning about it. The experience was positive as a GORUCK event, but a bit of a let down for a special event. I wanted to hear stories, history, or correlations about Pearl Harbor with other events. The event was light in this area which was a shame given the significance of Pearl Harbor. I was unimpressed by this cadre’s planning and I would certainly do another special event with another cadre.
TLDR up front: While the details change, the events are the same. The cadre didn’t do his homework, but there was a welcome party filled with PT, there was plenty of rucking while carrying heavy things & people, and there was plenty esprit de corps at a beautiful and historic site.
Little Finger: What went unnoticed?
The waterproof rating on my headlamp went unnoticed. The lamp is splash proof and perfect for running in the rain or camping in damp conditions, but there was a lot of PT in water. Once the salt water entered in the lamp, it was perpetually flickering and changing brightness settings.
At one point in time I did not notice I incorrectly fastened my dry bag allowing sea water to enter. The packaging on all of my food held up and none of my food became waterlogged or inedible.
Ring Finger: What relationships were formed?
The night before the event there was a ruck-off at a local bar. My previous events did not have a ruck-off. I now think they are required as everyone I met at the ruck-off was a solid participant during the event and quickly formed as a team.
There was some friction from those who did not attend. Class 1832 would lose three members during the Welcome Party. Their issues were knee pain and lightheadedness. I assessed them and did my best to render aid, but they ended up dropping. A few Marines who signed up for the event also almost quit about ⅔ or ¾ of the way in. A contingent from the ruck-off convinced them to finish. It is never good to have people quit or almost quit, but I would say morale remained high regardless of the drops and almost-drops.
We violated Rule 2 and we got lost. We were in a field where there were unsavory dealings. Even though we were lost in a crack den, every one tried to make the situation better and most people kept a bemused detachment. We weren’t quite a team at this point, but everyone was actively trying to work to make the situation better and maintained a detached bemusement. Regrettably, we were all pulling in different directions rather than one. We were at the storming stage of Tuckman’s group development, or, in more technical terms, a clusterfuck.
Eventually we figured things out, formed as a team, and performed as a team. Class 1832 would be patched at the World War II Valor In The Pacific Monument. Most surprising and most pleasant was the fact that several of us met up to do things after the event. Given that most of us were tourists, it would have been easy for us to do the GRC and then go on and enjoy our vacation separately. To my pleasant surprise we were still texting each other to meet up for drinks, going to the beach, and sharing our vacations.
Shout out to JJ, a local GRT, who was kind enough to drive a couple of GRTs to the ruck-off and event. Props to Lex, a sailor stationed in Hawaii, who completed his first GRC.
Middle Finger: What did you dislike? What made you frustrated?
Early on we were asked trivia about the Pearl Harbor attacks. I knew the answers without hesitation in part because I went to the memorial that day. Answering the trivia staved off a round of PT. Later in the event, my trivial knowledge did not hold up and we ended up doing some PT in an ocean inlet. Every wrong answer was corrected with PT which involved a motion to submerge you in the water. Despite the ocean being warm, I became very cold and very frustrated I couldn’t recall answers I read earlier that day. I am a Ravenclaw; I value wit and critical thinking. My memory failed at a time when I needed it most. Although I never thought about quitting this was my darkest time.
My own personal frustrations aside, I was frustrated with our cadre because he did not do his homework. He stated he only planned the event by looking at Google Maps. As the map is not the territory, cadre typically walk the route to ensure they can accomplish their mission and that it is safe to do so.
Moreover, he only shared a few bits of trivia about the attacks on Pearl Harbor. GRTs who did the event last year shared how the event was awe inspiring and that the cadre went above and beyond to make you think about what unfolded on 07 Dec 1941. What has transpired from then through now. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I felt like I received an event rather than GORUCK’s advertise special event.
Index Finger: How to be number one? What would you do better next time around?
Salt tabs would have been useful to add to my first aid kit (duct tape & gauze). One GRT was cramping up despite using an electrolyte additive in his water. Another member had salt tabs and that cleared up problems fairly quickly.
Improving my physical fitness would certainly make me better at my next event. I am strong enough to complete the event and strong enough to not create more problems. I would like to be stronger so I can contribute more to the team.
Thumb: What went well? What was good?
I think I have figured out my rucking kit for three season rucking. I would not know exactly what I would need to ruck in Chicago in December. For the remaining seasons, I could assemble my ruck, weight, and accouterments seconds after you asked, “Want to do a GRC?”
Despite the med drops, I was able to provide medical care to keep others in the game. By the end of the event, several of the military GRTs were calling me, “Doc”. It’s always nice when you can contribute your skills to the team.
One Take Away: The most important take away from the event
It can always be worse. I was cold while doing PT and trying to answer poor bar trivia while at Pearl Harbor. But at least I wasn’t being shot at by Japanese aircraft or swimming through water covered in flaming oil. No matter what tragedy befalls me, it can always be worse.