A huge honor one has when serving in an Embassy overseas is to work from time to time with the US Marines. We have a great Marine Detachment here at US Embassy Stockholm, led by a remarkable natural leader who is their Gunnery Sergeant. Whether it is formal events like our July 4th Party, or whether it is protecting our Post, our Marines are always delivering with perfection.
Soon after arriving at the US Embassy as Ambassador, I requested that the Marine Gunnery Sergeant include me when he can and when my schedule permits on the Marines’ weekly runs. These runs are tough and sometimes over rugged terrain, but the camradarie is always there, as is the possibility of talking with the Marines and learning each of their stories.
But this month I took part in one of the Marines’ “Run, Swim, Run” fitness exercises, which involves running with the Marines for five kilometers, then swimming one kilometer in COLD, FRIGID water in the Swedish Archipelago, and then running again for five kilometers back to where we started.
Early in the morning when we did this, I confess to a bit of trepidation on the run out to the water, along rocky and root bound paths in one of the parks adjacent to Stockholm. Having swum in the Gulf of Maine and rafted in the New River of West Virginia and dunked myself in the Colorado River, I thought I had felt frigid water. Nothing has taken my breath away like the plunge into the Swedish Archipelago – it is very cold! After plunging in, I paddled over to be near the Gunnery Sergeant who was already in, as I was not totally confident of my capacity to handle this cold water!
But sure enough the body acclimates, and we had a great swim and then high jumps back into the water, before running the five kilometers back to where we started.
Even without having done “Run, Swim, Run” with the Marines, I know our Marines are tough, exceptionally talented and strong Warriors. But I will ALWAYS think of their guts, their training, and the uniquely incredible community that is the US Marines whenever I am even close to cold water because of this fun and positive and memorable experience.