BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- It's 5 a.m. and the summer sunrise is gradually warming the waterfront near Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) as an active group of Sailors gathered on the grass in that early morning sun, each with a dedicated sense of purpose intent on their physical training task.
Each breath expelled, each stretch reached, and each muscle group exercised has a purpose. These Sailors are up well before dawn to put in the needed training for what many consider to be some of the toughest jobs in the armed forces. They are taking part in the Dive Motivator Program (DIVEMO) recently set up at NHB by Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class John Shaddix.
"This is a program that is specifically designed for any Sailors that want to apply to special communities like BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition), SEAL (Sea, Air Land), or even join the Army Rangers, Special Forces and other special programs like that," said Shaddix, an Auburn, Alabama native.
Shaddix attests that the DIVEMO program training is also applicable to other such specialty programs as Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC), Navy Diver, Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician (also open to females), Navy Aviation Rescue swimmer (open to females) and Air Force Pararescue Jumpers (also known as 'PJs').
"It's something (joining such a group) that I've always wanted to do," said Shaddix, "I always knew I would be in the military, even as a kid."
Even though his plan may have been stalled by a past injury, Shaddix continues to try and reach his goal of joining one of these groups by adding to his corpsman training with the DIVEMO program.
"Originally, I came in under a SWCC contract, then during recruit training I got injured and here I am. I've been trying to go back for the last couple years so I've been training and tracking down people from these communities to give me information on what to put together in a package," said Shaddix.
That same motivation to get his dream job is what led him to set up the training program at NHB and help others going through the same situation. The program has been specifically designed with a heavy dose of physical training, as well as mental preparation and advanced medical training for all the corpsmen involved to help them prepare for the rigors of the various special operations programs.
"I've been to commands that have an ongoing DIVEMO program and a lot of them have high success rates," said Shaddix, "I just wanted to put something together that could help everybody else avoid the same issues I've had. All I'm really doing is facilitating workouts and working with career counselors to get everything set up for these guys."
Since the launch of the DIVEMO program at NHB, the group has maintained a strict training schedule.
"Right now we have physical training four times a week, mostly led by me but each member uses their own strengths to make us better. We also have a classroom session held several times a month," said Shaddix.
The training is meant to prepare the enrollees for both the physical and mental obstacles ahead.
"From the physical side it shows them how they should be training their bodies to deal with the rigors of these programs. It's something that you need to prepare your body for," said Shaddix. "We also have a classroom session that is predominantly for the medical side of it. There are medical candidates that want to make it through and want to stay in that field so we're trying to push more of the advanced medical knowledge on them now that way they start learning it ahead of time."
The group trains to meet and possibly exceed the physical fitness screenings that groups like the SEAL's and Army Rangers have.
For example, just to qualify to attend SEAL training, applicants must pass a screening which includes the following:
- 500-yard swim using breast and/or sidestroke in under 12 minutes and 30 seconds (10 minute rest)
- Perform a minimum of 42 push-ups in 2 minutes (2 minute rest)
- Perform a minimum of 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes (2 minute rest)
- Perform a minimum of 6 pull-ups (no time limit, 10 minute rest)
- Run 1.5 miles wearing boots and long pants in under 11 minutes and 30 seconds.
A prospective applicant for the Army Rangers must meet the screening requirements that include:
- 12-mile road march with 45-pound rucksack within three hours, for all officers and combat arms non-commissioned officers (NCOs)
- 10-mile road march with 45-pound rucksack within 2.5 hours for all non-combat arms NCOs
- Successful completion of CWST (Combat Water Survival Training)
- 70 percent on Ranger History examination
- 5-mile run in less than 40 minutes
- 70 percent on self-paced Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) examination
- Psychological assessment by a U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) psychologist
- Successful recommendation from Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) board interview
Aside from developing their own training to pass these tests, Shaddix tries to bring in a dose of real on-the-job experience to the group.
"We're working with some of the dive lockers up in Naval Base Kitsap Bangor. Some of the people that are actually in some of these communities come out and teach us basic run techniques and basic swim techniques so it's not just self-contained," said Shaddix, "we are having a couple of these guys come and give motivating lectures to let others know what they did to get through these programs."
While connecting people to the right resources Shaddix says, "I would like to set it up to be an ongoing program even after I leave because this is something that there is always going to be Sailors that want to be a part of."
Even though it's just a small group initially, Shaddix is working on getting others to join him in his pursuit to be a part of those special operations communities.
"I plan on spreading the word of our program throughout the region. We're not a shut out group. We welcome anyone who is curious. If they just want to come out and ask questions or join a PT session to see what we're all about, they are more than welcome," said Shaddix.
Both enlisted personnel (E-1 to E-6) and officers (O-1 to O-3) are welcome who are interested in trying out. Even though most of these programs are geared towards males, there are programs like EOD, air rescue and support staff sides that are open to females, so both genders can train together.
Shaddix does advise anyone who wants to pursue any of these programs to, "Look up all the information you can and about the particular program you're trying to get into. Find out what you're looking into and what you personally need to prepare for."
For more information on the DIVEMO program at Naval Hospital contact HM3 John Shaddix at John.Shaddix@med.navy.mil.
For more news from Naval Hospital Bremerton, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhb/.