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This week's letters to the editor: PT, Tops in Blue

Aug. 5, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Staff Sgt. Darius Boscarino, shown getting a quick workout, has proposed changes to the PT test. Readers suggest other changes.
Staff Sgt. Darius Boscarino, shown getting a quick workout, has proposed changes to the PT test. Readers suggest other changes. (Courtesy photo)
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[Regarding “Fix the PT test,” July 7 issue:]

Why are gym rats taking over the Air Force? This is not the Army nor is it the Marine Corps.

My take on the PT test: Get rid of it entirely. Just use the most basic metric available: Can this airman perform his/her Air Force duties? If a person fails that test, then by all means place him/her on a fitness improvement program until he/she can perform satisfactorily.

People say that obesity would cost the Air Force money in both the long and short term, but I sincerely doubt it would cost as much as we currently pay to treat physical training-related injuries, especially when you start to consider lost man hours. In the long term, such a small percentage of the force retires with benefits that obesity-related health costs are a non-factor.

I hear we want people to present a professional image. Have you seen the corporate sector? I would have brilliant, overweight airmen in admin and intel fields than less intelligent, physically fit specimens. I hate seeing talented individuals being forced out of the service in favor of skinny ones.

Bottom line: The Air Force mission is to fly, fight and win — not to look sexy in uniform. And deprioritizing physical fitness in favor of more relevant pursuits isn’t “lazy.”

This is from someone scoring in the 90s.

Master Sgt. Gordon Childs | Fort Meade, Maryland

I like the idea of doing away with the waist measurement. I don’t feel it serves much purpose. You either can complete the PT test, or you cannot.

My history involves extensive stomach surgery beginning with surgery for diverticulitis at age 23 in 2003, and there is no way to measure my stomach accurately. Six months ago they measured me at 34 inches, and [recently] I was measured at 38 inches. I know I have not put on four inches in six months. My stomach has scars that make my stomach dip up and down; this factor isn’t taken into consideration. Depending on who measures my waist and where on my stomach they measure, I can measure differently. This is my reasoning for doing away with the waist measurement.

I have no problem completing the run or pushups. I have problems with the sit-ups since my surgeries.

As everyone knows there is a huge stigma with being on a profile. I went back to work in August 2004 — after a total of five surgeries, a two-week medically induced coma, a 40-pound weight loss and being so weak I could barely lift my arm — and everyone always wondered why I could not take a PT test for two years. Someone hears why you can’t do a PT test or can’t do a portion and they automatically assume without knowing the full story. There were many times I just wanted to lift my shirt up and show them my stomach, enough said.

I had additional surgeries in 2008, 2011 and 2013. Through all that, I am glad I am able to still be in the Air Force doing what I love to do.

Tech. Sgt. Charles White | Charleston, South Carolina


While a flight attendant in the early 1970s at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, I met Staff Sgt. Tom Edwards, director of Tops in Blue, and Heinz Johnson, recreation director from Air Force headquarters.

They were having trouble with transportation for the performers and equipment. They got permission to use a T-29 to take the performers around the Air Force bases in the U.S. A C-130 carried their equipment. So began my relationship with Edwards and TIB. After leaving the aircraft, I helped him set up the stage, and he taught me the lighting and sound boards.

I reunited with Edwards [who now leads Tops in Blue as a civilian] on June 13 for the 2014 Tops in Blue performance at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Friday the 13th of June 2014 will be in my memory forever.

One of the ladies in TIB 14 had me dancing in the aisle with her. Later they asked if anyone were from Alabama, and of course I waved both hands, and the young performers had me and other members of the audience on stage singing “Sweet Home Alabama.” I am 72 years old and, with tears in my eyes, I felt 30.

For 2½ hours, everything was alright with the world. Tops in Blue 2014 did that for me and many other retired and active-duty members.

I say to the naysayers: The budget for TIB is minuscule compared to the waste the Administration, Congress and Defense Department spends every year for not even close to the rewards the Tops In Blue performers bring to our military, retirees and civilians. The TIB budget is money well spent.

Master Sgt. Simon Pentz (ret.) | Provo, Utah

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