Sergeant Tony's Blog

Being a Friend — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s blog post for 2/6/2013

Wednesday, Feb. 6th 2013 4:33 PM

I started telling Virgil Ray my secrets during the summer between 6th and 7th grade.

He never said anything or offered an opinion.

One of the best things about being a kid was not having an appointment book to dictate my life. No running late to get to a meeting. Lazy summer days were spent kicking back, goofing off, wandering around looking for some kind of adventure and/or foolishness to occupy my time.

Creekmore Park was the coolest park in my hometown. It had two pools, an Olympic size pool for swim meets and general splashing about, and a diving pool for showing off. The diving pool had three different diving boards to perform your can openers, cannon balls, and belly flops from a variety of heights. And there was a wonderful wooded area, the Bird Sanctuary, next to the park where you and your girlfriend could stroll and “bird watch.”

Between Creekmore Park and my house was one of the oldest cemeteries in Fort Smith. Oak Cemetery looks like your stereotypical cemetery. It’s a bit like Elmwood Cemetery here in Memphis. Like Elmwood, it has old mausoleums, massive and ornate monuments, and headstones that hearken back to a different era with dates that go back to the early 1800’s. The huge oak trees in the cemetery are ancient and seem to reach into the sky forever.

That summer, I volunteered at the pool as a helper for the Red Cross’s Swimming Program. I was a “swimmer’s aide” – an entry level position for 12 year old boys — helping the certified swim instructors teach little kids how to swim. We started early in the morning and then we were finished an hour or so before the pool opened to the public. After the lessons, I’d walk home and eat breakfast. And then I’d head back to the pool to hang out and goof off with my friends.

The shortest route home from the pool was to cut through Oak Cemetery.

And that’s where I met Virgil.

Virgil Ray died in 1943.

Virgil was buried in Oak Cemetery and his headstone had something on it I’d never seen before. There, mounted above his name was a ceramic picture of Virgil in his US Navy uniform. No other headstone had a picture of the deceased. It was very interesting and it made Virgil Ray more than just a name on a slab of stone, but it humanized him.

Virgil was 22 when he died during World War II. To me, he was a full-grown man from the Greatest Generation, smiling at me from beyond the grave. The hundreds of others buried in Oak Cemetery were simply names on interesting stone monuments. But to me, Virgil Ray became a real person. When I looked at his picture that first day, I felt like I was meeting a person. I said, “Hi, Virgil Ray.”

Day by day, I passed his grave looking at his picture. Eventually my pause at his resting place turned into a reverent conversation — almost a prayer — with this war-time hero. Over time, I just started confiding in Virgil, telling him about my life and even asking him for advice. Silly, I know.

But thus began a “relationship” that has endured my whole life. I left Fort Smith when I was 18 and haven’t lived there since. But trips home often include a visit with Virgil.

Over the years I’ve taken girlfriends, family, and friends to “meet Virgil Ray.” I remember when I turned 22 myself and had finally reached Virgil’s age. I remember how strange it was when I was finally 23 and older than Virgil. By that time, I’d been visiting my friend’s grave for over 10 years.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully to contact surviving members of Virgil’s family. I did some research at the public library and found his obituary and tried to find the surviving members of his family listed there. I always wanted to talk to someone who actually knew him. I always wanted to know what kind of man he was. I didn’t know exactly how I would introduce myself to them if I had actually found a surviving family member. But by now, I’m afraid all who knew Virgil have joined him.

Saying nothing over the years, Virgil has counseled me with the wisdom of silence. I have sometimes sat on the grass next to his headstone and waited for an answer about some question I had or some problem I was struggling with. And in that silence I’d often received the “answer” I needed. Sometimes I just needed to take the time to talk the situation out and hearing myself speak those things aloud … I would have an answer.

How many times have you explained a problem you were struggling with to a friend and almost immediately upon hearing yourself explain your dilemma you knew exactly what to do? Hearing yourself explain your problem or detail your prospective plan is often all it takes to set things straight in your mind.

I’ve been careful about telling a non-adventurous friend about an adventure I was thinking about having. They were almost surely going to discourage me from having that adventure. For example, prior to me moving to Japan, one of my elderly female relatives who’d never lived outside of the county she was born in, attempted to discourage me from my adventure by saying, “Well, you know … they bombed Pearl Harbor.”

“Again?” I said.

She gave me that same disapproving look that she always gave me.

Your best counseling to your family or friends probably won’t be anything that you say to them. It’ll more than likely be your willingness just to listen … and then having heard … it’ll be your willingness to say nothing.

After my mom died, I was most encouraged by people who told me that they loved me and that they were sorry for my loss. Or they would ask me to retell one of my favorite stories about my mom. I was least encouraged by people who told me that my mom was in a better place, or that she wasn’t suffering anymore, or that she was now reunited with my dad and my brother. One person told me that my mom was dead now because God needed her in heaven. What? It was bad theology made worse by repeating it to a grieving heart.

Your compassion will often speak loudest when you say nothing at all in the presence of your struggling friend. You will often demonstrate your concern and love for your friend or spouse by validating their feelings through a loving and attentive silence, or by telling them that you would feel the same way if you were going through the same thing. You tell them you love them. You tell them that through body language that says so and by supporting them, by a comforting hand on their shoulder … by a hug. I seldom need anyone to solve my problems, but I am happy when my friend lends an ear that hears … and listens … and validates my struggle. Sometimes, what I really want is just their presence.

The first rule of being a friend is simply being.

I have sometimes wondered, when I am no more, will some 12 year old boy, by chance, wander past my final resting place … and pause for a moment … and say, “Hi Tony Ludlow.”

— 30 —

Successful People vs. Unsuccessful People

• Keep a “to do” project list
• Embrace change
• Exude joy
• Share information and data
• Talk about ideas
• Read everyday
• Give other people credit for their victories
• Have a sense of gratitude
• Compliment others
• Forgive others
• Accept responsibilities for their failures
• Keep a journal
• Want others to succeed
• Keep a “to be” list
• Set goals and develop life plans
• Continuously learn
• Operate from a transformational perspective

• Exude anger
• Horde information and data
• Talk about people
• Fly by the seat of their pants
• Fear change
• Watch TV everyday
• Take all of the credit for their victories
• Have a sense of entitlement
• Criticize others
• Hold a grudge
• Blame others for their own failures
• Say they keep a journal but really don’t
• Think they know it all
• Operate from a transactional perspective
• Secretly hope that others fail
• Don’t know what they want to be
• Never set goals




We’ll meet at 7:30am on Saturday, February 9, in front of the Visitor’s Center at Shelby Farms. This third training run will be 1hr 30min.

Sunday is our intended running day, weather permitting. That is, if the forecast calls for clear skies on Saturday, but rain on Sunday, we’ll run on Saturday. Like this weekend.

Cost is only $75 for active duty Boot Campers and $125 for non-boot campers for the three-month training.





Anytime the “Feels like” temperature on The Weather Channel – I’ll be using the TWC app for iPhone — drops to 30 or below, we’ll go inside. The 0530 and 0645 classes use the “blue gym” on those days. During basketball season, the evening class will use the exercise room off the main gym.

If the Memphis City Schools close for ice or snow, we will also stand down. If they start, but then dismiss classes early, the evening class will stand down.



What you get out of the workouts is determined by you.

How much do you work? How much effort you put into trying to do all of the repetitions with proper form and how much weight you’re using will determine what you get out of each workout.

It’s time for you to go up in weights … that’s what I’m thinking!






When you check-in on Facebook, be sure to check-in on our OFFICIAL PAGE. That would be “USMC Fitness Boot Camp” and it has my picture on the page and boot camp is two words. The other pages are those that other people created without looking for the OFFICIAL PAGE and are duplicates. Those pages refer to us, but aren’t the authorized page.

Thanks, all!



Members of the Sub-7 Club are Boot Campers who’ve run the mile in under 7 minutes under my observation and timing.

Congratulations to the following members of the Sub Seven Club:

Lance Corporal Lee Chase,
Lance Corporal Chris McLelland,
Staff Sergeant Patrick Moore,
Staff Sergeant Rob Johnston,
Staff Sergeant Andrew Stolnicki,
Gunnery Sergeant Bart Thomas,
Staff Sergeant Dory Sellers,
Gunnery Sergeant Henry Kenworthy,
Master Sergeant John Winford,
First Sergeant Matt Green,
And Sergeant Major Andrew Forsdick.



Your rank insignia t-shirts look AWESOME on you! (Don’t forget to wear yours EVERY WEDNESDAY AND/OR THURSDAY, T-SHIRT DAY!

And please go to

And enter your boot camp anniversary date. If that information is already there and correct, you’re good to go.

Every Wednesday is our Official BOOT CAMP T-SHIRT DAY! You can wear your rank insignia shirt anytime you‘d like, of course, but always every Wednesday!

The Rank Structure of the Quarterdeck:

Under 6 months is a Private
Six months to 1 year is a Private First Class.

Over 1 year is a Lance Corporal
– Rachel Phillips 2/2012
– Amber Jackson 4/2011
– Sherri Thompson 4/2011
– Carrie Schule 5/2011
– Mary Bauer 6/2011
– Robin Scott 3/2011
– Chris McLelland 3/2011
– Randal Rhea 4/2011
– Cindy King 4/2011
– Bevan Lee 5/2011
– Melissa Thompson 5/2011
– Wayne Henderson 1/2011 *
– Michelle Moss 5/2011
– Lee Chase 7/2011
– JD Dombroski 8/2011
– Lindsey Stanfill 9/2011
– ShaWanda Upshaw 10/2011
– Tara Ingram 11/2011
– Pam Torres – meritoriously promoted 12/2012
– Tait Keller 12/2012
– Kitty Keller 12/2012

Over 2 years is a Corporal
– Courtney Phillips 2/2011
– Emily Melonas 6/2010
– Beth Mills 5/2010
– Ashley Hofeditz 4/2010
– Anne Marie Wyatt 4/2010
– Jenni Harris 8/2010
– Tim Romanow 8/2010
– Ashley McClure 8/2010
– Wendy Shea 4/2008*
– Jeremy Harris 1/2009*
– Falana Scott 7/2010
– Paul Bauer 11/2010

Over 3 years is a Sergeant
– Cecelia DeLacy 2/2010
– Teresa Faulk 6/2009
– Meg Cannon 3/2009
– Cameron Mosley 11/2009
– Karen Massey 11/2009
– Paul Tronsor 3/2009
– Jonathan Phillips 10/2008
– Sarah Vickers 8/2009
– Shena Clemons 10/2008
– Robert Hunt 8/2009
– Albo Carruthers 8/2008
– Kim Wamble 8/2008*
– Scott Plunkett 10/2008

Over 4 years is a Staff Sergeant
– Jessie Flanders 1/2009
– Andrew Stolnicki 1/2009
– Ben Killerlain 1/2009
– Buddy Daves 5/2008
– Dory Sellers 6/2006*
– Patrick Moore 9/2008
– Anne Kenworthy 8/2008
– Alan Schaeffer 4/2008
– Rob Johnston 4/2008
– Patty Dougherty 3/2008
– Oscar Adams 3/2008

Over 5 years is a Gunnery Sergeant
– Mike Ryan 5/2006*
– Leslie Garey 6/2007
– Henry Kenworthy 5/2007
– Michelle Dunn 3/2007
– Frank Jemison /2007
– Bart Thomas /2007
– Matt Prince /2007
– Beth Rehrig 7/2007
– George Rose /2007

Over 6 years is a Master Sergeant
– Anne Mead 2/2005*
– Kay Ryan 10/2006
– Megan Warr 8/2006
– Leesa Jensen 5/2006
– Rob Norcross 8/2006
– Mike Barta 6/2005*
– Anne Emmerth 6/2005*
– Jeff Lee 1/2006
– Ralph Braden 9/2006

Over 7 years is a First Sergeant
– John Winford 2/2006
– Kay Shelton 1/2006
– Louis Glazer 3/2005
– Matt Green 5/2005
– Gary Thompson 10/2005
– Scot Bearup 10/2005

Over 8 years is a Sergeant Major
– Melissa Moore 2/2005
– Hank Brown 3/2004
– Teri Trotter 4/2004
– Andrew Forsdick 9/2004

Over 9 years is a Warrant Officer 1
– David Townsend 1/2004
– Peter Pettit 5/2003
– Buddy Flinn 7/2003
– Amy Singer 9/2003

Over 10 years is a Chief Warrant Officer 2
– Pat McGhee 1/2003
– John Whittemore 1/2003

Battalion Executive Officer
Major Richard Bourland

* broken time



We should be!


You should totally do that!



If you set up an automatic payment at your bank (Boot Camp mailing address is 4888 Southern, Memphis 38117) you can subtract $10 off your fee! That’s right, instead of $75, you can pay $65!

(This is not an automatic bank draft that I set up with a voided check. This an automatic payment that you yourself set up.)



0530 Monday through Friday
(First and second Tuesday of the month are M-16 Workouts at CUMC. Third and fourth Tuesdays are Mt. Fuji Workouts at the U of M)

0645 M-F

5:30 PM: Monday through Friday.



First of all, find me on Facebook and make me your friend. (Also, be sure to “like” USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP on Facebook.)

Here’s how the discount works!

It’s simple: make a Facebook status update and get a discount!

For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, (there are fake boot camps out there) you can take $2.50 off your next reenlistment fee for each update!

You can take up to $20 off for any given month!

Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.


You can do the same thing by “checking in” at USMC Fitness Boot Camp either by using Facebook “places,” Foursquare, or any of the other “check in” apps that show up on your Facebook News Feed.

So log on and start getting your discounts now!



Remember that when one of your family or friends joins the program at full price because of your recruiting efforts, YOU get a free month of Boot Camp!



Take Shape For Life is the BEST weight loss program I know of. If you’d like to lose weight talk to me. This is the program I used to lose the almost 30 pounds I gained after knee surgery.

You can also go to



A calendar has been added to the official USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP website.

For you visual learners, you’ll find this an easy way to glance at the week or month and see where the workouts will be, if there’s a venue change.


Q. How can I get up in the morning on a consistent basis?
A. Contrary to what many think, I am NOT a morning person. I have to be “dynamited” out of the bed! Here are some tips to help you get going in the morning:
1. Use two alarm clocks. I have a snooze alarm that starts going off several minutes before I intend to get up. Then I have a “Last Call” alarm clock that is located across the room. This alarm clock is set to go off when I MUST get up.
2. Once the last call alarm goes off, the bed become OFF LIMITS! Get moving!
3. Get out of bed, turn off the alarm clock, and start turning on lights all through the house. Turn on the TV.
4. Lay out your clothes the night before. Don’t go wandering around the house in the morning trying to find your left shoe and your favorite shorts. So, have things ready the night before.

What would you do if money was not an issue, fear was not a factor, and failure was not an option?

To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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