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Hometown Soldiers:
Strongest Man and Woman Contest

Joint Base Balad Members Pump Some Iron, Name Strongest Man, Woman on Base

By Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and civilians from across Joint Base Balad gathered at the Red Tail Recreation Center to watch who would earn the titles of “Strongest Man and Woman on Joint Base Balad” during the Red Tail Bench Press competition Jan. 20.

Hosted by the Red Tail 5/6 Council and 332nd Expeditionary Force Support Squadron Fitness Center staff, the event ushered in more than 20 participants and 100 spectators.

The Red Tail 5/6 Council is an organization for enlisted members in the ranks of E-5 and E-6 who work together to solve issues of mission readiness, work within the community, provide mentorship and encourage esprit de corps.

The multi-service competition, held every Air Force rotation, was open to all service members and civilians of all ages, weight-classes and fitness backgrounds.

Weighing in at 174.2 pounds, Senior Airman Christopher Ross, 532nd Security Forces Squadron radio transmission operator, took the title of “Strongest Man on JBB,” bench pressing a maximum lift of 340 lbs.

“Winning was unexpected, I thought for sure Staff Sgt. Delmont Benjamin was going to win,” said Ross. “It’s a great honor to have won. I love to lift weights. I’ve been doing it all my life.”

“I plan to compete in future fitness competitions as well,” continued the Stone Mountain, Ga., native.

The “Strongest Female on JBB” title was once again taken by Army 1st Lt. Monique Pullin, 101st Human Resource Company.

The Hope Mills, N.C., Soldier was ready to take first place from the moment she stepped in the door, stating so prior to the competition.

“I feel great,” Pullin said. “I know I’m going to win first place out of the females.”

She proved to be Army strong, winning the female category with a maximum lift of 165 pounds. She weighed in at 151.9 pounds.

First, 2nd and 3d-place winners were determined using the Schwartz/Malone Formula. The Schwartz Formula was used for the men and Malone Formula for the women. To determine the “best lifter,” scorekeepers multiplied each lifter’s coefficient (based on individual weight) by his or her best lift out of three. The resulting factor is considered his Schwartz, or her Malone formula total. The lifter with the highest SFT/MFT won the title.

Winners for the competition also included:

Male Category 2nd Place -- Staff Sgt. Delmont Benjamin, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., with a maximum lift of 370 pounds.

Male Category 3rd Place -- Senior Airman Robert Ervin, 332nd Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, deployed from Whiteman AFB, Mo., with a maximum lift of 295 pounds.

Female Category 2nd Place -- Master Sgt. Karen Boerman, 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, deployed from Misawa Air Base, Japan, with a maximum lift of 165 pounds.

Female Category 3rd Place -- Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs, deployed from Whiteman AFB, Mo., with a maximum lift of 75 pounds.

The Red Tail Bench Press competition is one of various strength and fitness competitions held by the fitness center staff.

“We also do the ‘Strongest in the AOR,’ ‘Hard Body,’ and ‘Powerlifting’ competitions,” said Tech. Sgt. Judith Fields, 332nd EFSS NCO in charge of fitness, deployed from Pope AFB, N.C.

“We spend a lot of time planning these events for members to participate in. They have fun and it’s a stress reliever to take their minds off of work and home,” added the Bridgeport, Conn., native. “They get to meet new people at all the events and it’s a fitness challenge for some folks.”

Event coordinator Staff Sgt. Kimberly Johnson, 332nd EFSS deployed from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, encourages all base personnel to take part in at least one of the many upcoming events the fitness center and recreation center have to offer.

“We have something for everyone,” said the Bessemer, Ala., native. “Come out and participate. We know that it’s not easy to be far away from home, so we try to offer a variety of events to keep people motivated and happy. All you have to do is get involved.”

Red Tail 5/6 representative Petty Officer Aaron Bickel, agreed.

“You can’t let the troubles of being at work encompass your life,” he said. “It’s important to get out and do stuff. Make the most of your time here.”

“The 5/6 is also working to put on a number of events to include our own version of the Olympics,” added the Navy Reservist from Des Moines, Iowa. “There will be actual athletic events like track and even some non-athletic events like a three-legged race. The 5/6 wants to show JBB that we are here for them to provide service members with ways to get involved on base.”

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