Fitness helps top recruit shine on gruelling course
Motueka man named nation's top recruitALASTAIR PAULIN
When he was lugging a 20- kilogram jerry can of water up a muddy hill in the middle of the night, there were times when the army's newest top recruit wondered why he was bothering.
It was a far cry from his previous job as a sea-kayak guide in Abel Tasman National Park, but Private Gwynrydd Rees had wanted to tackle something more challenging.
The son of a naval officer, Mr Rees said he had always been interested in a military career.
"I love the outdoors and I love shooting and guns. So it all combined."
The Motueka man was named the top recruit when 103 soldiers graduated from the All Arms Recruit Course at Waiouru Camp last Tuesday. He begins his 13-week core training as a rifleman at Burnham on Sunday.
Mr Rees was already fit when he began the 16-week course, and had good outdoor skills after three years of outdoor recreation training through the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.
He said the mental challenges taxed him more than the physical ones.
An example was a drill that involved getting dressed in uniform and having to get outside into the cold in less than two minutes, or having to do it over and over again.
"After a few of those, you get pretty annoyed. Pushing yourself through those mental boundaries was tough, because in civilian life, you don't get in those sorts of situations."
During the course, the soldiers learned the necessary skills to be employed as a soldier in the New Zealand Army, including field and battle craft, weapon training and shooting, first aid, physical training, close-quarter battle, navigation and drill.
During last Tuesday's graduation, they demonstrated many of the skills to family and friends.
"I'm really stoked to get the Top Recruit Award," Mr Rees said, "but I owe a lot to the guys who did the course with me. We all tried to help each other. I have made some great friends on the course."
Support from his family and occasional visits from his girlfriend, Emma Buscke, who he met when she was also a sea kayak guide in Abel Tasman National Park, helped sustain him through the demanding course.
He received a Top Recruit certificate and his name has been engraved on a trophy in the hall of fame at Waiouru.
"I feel pride knowing that will be there forever," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News