Airman Picks Up Perfect PT

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cristina J. Allen
  • 177th Fighter Wing

Bragging rights.

That’s what Staff Sgt. Mark A. Perna earned during his last Air Force physical fitness assessment, achieving a perfect score of 100 points.

“I’m older and I can tell all the young guys to step it up,” said Perna, a 32-year-old native of Vineland, New Jersey. “I feel like I earned bragging rights.”

The Air Force Fitness Program goal is to motivate Airmen to stay fit by keeping an active lifestyle year-round to maintain a higher level of readiness.

 “You have to be physically fit to do your job,” said Perna, a pavements and construction equipment journeyman with the 177th Civil Engineer Squadron. “Especially in some of the environments where you have to do your job. Sometimes it’s really hot or cold. You really need to be in tip-top shape to be able to do your job.”

If being in top physical condition isn’t incentive enough, the 177th Fighter Wing Chief’s Group is awarding incentive t-shirts to all 177 FW members who received over 98 percent score on their physical fitness assessment with no fitness exemptions.

“The 177 FW Chief's Group realized that, for both incentive and recognition, something should be done to recognize the performance of our outstanding Physical Fitness Assessment performers,” said Chief Master Sgt. James F. McCloskey, command chief master sergeant of the 177 FW. “So the Chief’s Group designed and funded this project.”

Perna is one of the first to earn this incentive.

“I can't wait to see more and more people wearing these shirts as they symbolize PT excellence on this base,” said McCloskey. “It can give the rest of the Wing something to chase.”

Perna agreed.

“I think the Air Force Fitness Assessment Program is important to the Air Force,” said Perna. “It’s beneficial to have an active lifestyle.”

Perna has been a part of the New Jersey Air National Guard for six years now, part time, as a drill status guardsman, but his full-time job as a Hamilton Township Police Officer can be just as physically demanding.

“I’m not going to lose a fight against any bad guy, said Perna. “We need to be more fit so we can take the fight to them. As a team, we are not going to lose.”

A big part of Perna’s life, which helps him remain fit for both of his careers, is running.

“I do a lot of races, 5K’s, and half marathons,” said Perna. “I’m currently training for the Marine Core Marathon coming up in October.”

The most weighted score on the Air Force PT Assessment is the aerobic component, a 1.5-mile timed run.

“I almost always get a 98.9 or a 99,” said Perna, whose run time was in the low 9 minutes. “But this was my first 100.”

The Air Force PT Assessment also includes abdominal circumference measurements and the muscular fitness component, consisting of the amount of push-ups and sit-ups, completed within one minute each.

“It’s a whole overall balance of the mind and body with the physical and mental,” said Perna, who just recently joined the Atlantic County Swat Team. “It’s about a well-balanced lifestyle and being on your a-game physically and mentally.”

The 177 FW is an Air National guard team with the goal to have a mission-ready, fit force.

“I need to be physically fit also to show the rest of the team that I’m in it,” said Perna. “I’ve got your back, and you’ll have mine.”