Sergeant Tony's Blog

Archive for August, 2017

The Goodbye Girl — Sgt. Tony’s blog post for 8/23/2017

Aug. 23rd 2017

She regularly left fruit at my apartment door. She never knocked or rang my doorbell. She just left the little bag and disappeared.

For a long time, I didn’t even know it was a “she” leaving the fruit. I had no idea who was doing it, nor why.

It wasn’t until I inadvertently caught her about to leave the plastic bag of fruit at my door that I discovered who it was. I was on my way to an appointment and had just run home for a quick bite to eat. My car wasn’t there — I’d taken the subway home — so she thought I wasn’t there. When I opened the door to leave, I was as shocked as she was when we stood there face to face, her with the familiar bag of fruit in her hands and me with a puzzled look on my American face.

She was noticeably embarrassed and now the mystery of several months was over.

For almost a year she’d been anonymously leaving seasonal fruit at my door. She had hoped to keep it a secret. Thing is, I knew her very well from my neighborhood and had spoken to her at least once a week for over a year. She never said anything about the fruit.

Of course, I started out by apologizing for startling her. That only seemed to embarrass her more. I tried to make her feel more at ease by thanking her for all of the food she’d given me. But that didn’t seem to help. So, I did the only other thing I could think of. I asked her why.

I expected an explanation that was easy and reasonable, maybe just wanting to be neighborly and kind, I thought. Nothing more.

Instead, she started telling me a story that began 50 years earlier, when she was just a girl of 18 or 19. Growing up in the south of Japan in a small city called Chiran, the concern, she said, was that the second world war would soon move from Okinawa to the mainland of Japan as Allied forces, mostly Marines, island hopped across the Pacific. The small town of Chiran, a town I’d never heard of, was at the southernmost part of the mainland and would surely become an invasion point.

“Obaachan” was the name I called her, which is really just a nickname Japanese children give their grandmother, kind of like “Nanna,” and what she insisted I call her. I only called her Isaji-san (Mrs. Isaji) once or twice in the beginning, before she asked that I call her Obaachan. I liked calling her that. I was happy to have a Japanese Meemaw since I never knew my own.

Chiran, she told me, was only mildly famous for one thing. It had been the location of one of the last Kamikaze training bases during WWII. And with Allied forces preparing to invade mainland Japan, many more young men were arriving in Chiran to receive their training before flying off to their deaths to save the Empire from the invading foreign horde of white demons. The young men arriving kept getting younger and younger, hardly more than boys, she said. But in all of Japanese history, the mainland had never been successfully invaded and this generation of Japanese was not going to fail in their duty. They would repel the invaders; they would sink their ships; they would hurl them back into the sea.

Obaachan could see the look on my face and realized that I was having trouble making the connection of bags of fruit at my door to her girlhood home in the south of Japan.

“My brother,” she continued, “was two years younger, and had decided to become Kamikaze. He had seen other older boys march off to become soldiers and he was full of zeal to join them. My sister and I had already been serving as ‘goodbye girls,’ (nadeshiko). We gave the Kamikaze their final farewell at the airfield. We bowed and waved and bowed and waved as the boy pilots taxied their planes and took off into nothingness.

“We waved and waved until we could not see them anymore. Why did we have to endure such sorrow, I wondered?

“In July of 1945, we said goodbye to my brother. Then the rest of my family and I went north to a small village in central Japan to live with other family members. We thought it might be safer there. We braced for the invasion. But during that time little brother stayed in Chiran to became Kamikaze. It was the most horrible of horrible things. Our little brother, lost to us forever. The sadness was more than we could speak of.

“In August, the US dropped atomic bombs. The invasion that we anticipated never happened. My country surrendered. The war was over. All was lost and the country was burned, beaten, and starving. But soon American GIs filled the streets all throughout Japan. They were not the white devils and foreign demons we were told. They were kind and generous. The Americans brought food and supplies. On their shoulders were our hopes and future. They saved our lives and our homeland.

“Soon we heard from my brother! It was a miracle! His Kamikaze mission was planned for August 7, 1945, but the first bomb fell the day before and all missions were immediately postponed. The military leaders met to decide what to do. After the second bomb, the decision was evident. Japan surrendered. My little brother’s life was spared!

“I am not bitter about the atomic bombs. They were terrible parts of a terrible war. Our government and our military leaders lied to us and led us into that shameful horror. The bombs prevented more death and destruction and saved my little brother’s life. And when the Americans arrived, they did not come as conquerors to enslave us, as our leaders had said they would. They came to help us rebuild our country. Without the Americans, my family would have starved to death. Without the bomb, my brother would have died for no reason.

“All of my life, I have wanted to repay the American kindness in some way. Over forty years passed and still I had no opportunity to say thank you. But then, my hopes were fulfilled! You moved into my neighborhood and became my American friend, my American grandson. You love Japan and you love the Japanese and your heart is tender and kind. So, I try to take care of you, Tony-san, because your country took care of me and my family. Every day I see you, I am reminded of these things and my heart is made whole.”

I wept.

— 30 —


The weather tomorrow looks good for Cardio! Come and get your run, jog, and power walk on!

If it rains, we’ll do BOGA instead!


by First Sergeant Ashley Holloway, MS, RD, LDN
(A Registered Dietitian has a BS in Food Science, followed by a one year internship through an accredited university, and then with the recommendation of the internship program’s supervisor, a national examination is required. After that, an RD must have continuing education units annually in order to remain active and registered. An RD is an expert, not a hobbyist or a “food enthusiast.”)

Q & A with the Registered Dietitian

Q:I like fruits and veggies, but dislike buying and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. All the produce I buy in Memphis spoils within 2 days and it usually takes me forever to eat. I end up throwing it all away, not purchasing at all, or I’m in the grocery store 4 times a week!

I do cook with frozen veggies, but I don’t eat canned fruits or veggies since I thought those were bad for you. I normally make smoothies with frozen fruit and spinach but I’ve grown tired of that. I am looking for something to mix it up. I keep reading that there are juices that have 100% of your daily value of fruits and vegetables. I would prefer a juice but also want to be conscious of how much sugar I would be adding to my diet. Do you have any suggestion for a juice alternative to eating fruits and veggies? Thank you!

A: What a great question! I completely understand about fresh fruits and veggies going bad before you have a chance to eat them. Actually, canned fruits and vegetables are very healthy for you, just like frozen and fresh are.

Canned and frozen fruits and veggies are packed at the peak of freshness. And often, canned vegetables are higher in nutrition than fresh, especially tomatoes. And there are plenty of no-added-salt canned vegetables to choose from too.

Regarding canned fruits, just choose those packed in juice, not in heavy syrup. This way you are not getting lots of extra added sugar. You can also substitute no-added-sugar dried fruits in place of fresh, but make sure to pay attention to the serving size, since it will be smaller since the fruits will shrink when dried.

I would recommend choosing canned, dried, and frozen fruits and veggies over juice for one main reason … you get more fiber. Nutritionally, I would recommend no more than 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of juice a day because juice is higher in calories and since it is a liquid it doesn’t seem to provide the same level of satiety that the whole fruit does. The type of juice you should choose if really based on your own preference, just choose the kind you would drink … orange, pineapple, mixed fruit, etc. But I would recommend one with 100% of the RDA for Vitamin C.



The first weekend in September—hopefully that Saturday, weather permitting—will be the start of my 28th half marathon training group! This training is set up for those running the St. Jude Half Marathon in December, but anyone is welcome to participate.

Prerequisite: you should be able to cover 3 miles in 36 minutes or less. Our weekend long run is set up for 5 minutes running at an 11’30” pace, followed by a 1 minute walk break.

All are welcome, not just boot campers. However, the fee is less for active duty boot campers. It’s $75 for the 3-month training for boot campers and $120 for “friends of boot camp” and former active duty campers.

Group runs, training manual, nutrition advice, and constant consultation are only parts of the benefits of being a Buffalo Runner!

Location will be Shelby Farms. We’ll meet at 7am inbetween the bike rental and the Visitor’s Center. (That’s the same location as last year.)

The first run is FREE for those not sure.


Running with Music!

If you run with music, for safety’s sake, turn the music down or use only one earbud, especially in a race. I use an excellent single earbud (XDU Noise Isolating Earbud) from Far End Gear





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!






Are you coming up on promotion? Let me know!

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!



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!

(This is not in conjunction with other discounts and is not an automatic bank draft that I set up with a voided check. This an automatic payment that you yourself set up yourself with your bank usually online and easy as pie!)



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)
5:45 PM: Monday through Thursday



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!


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 becomes OFF LIMITS! Get moving!
3. Get out of bed, turn off the alarm clock, and start turning on lights all through the house. Turn the TV on!
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
Text: 901-644-0145

Posted by Tony Ludlow | in Uncategorized | No Comments »

One Good Egg — 8/10/2017

Aug. 10th 2017

In the spring of my senior year of high school I lied to my mother and said I was camping with some buddies in the Ozark National Forest. What I actually did was drive two hours to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend my first concert. I knew mom would say “no” if I asked, so I just didn’t ask.

By the spring of my senior year in high school, I no longer thought of myself as a boy under my parent’s care. I was earning my own money. Bought my own car. Paid for my own gas and insurance. Bought my own clothes. Ate 90% of my meals out, paying with my own money. Gave money to my mom every Friday when I got paid to help ends meet at home. And on top of that, I’d already joined the Marine Corps. So, I decided it was time I got a little more independent.

The concert wasn’t a big time event at all. No stadium rock show. No laser lights. No drugs being passed around. No “wooohooo” drunk chicks riding piggy back on some dude’s shoulders. I couldn’t even convince any of my pals to go with me. So I drove to Tulsa by myself to see a little known guitar player named Leo Kottke.

On the stage with Leo was a plastic chair, two microphones, and two acoustic guitars leaning on stands. That was it. I’ve been in living rooms larger than the venue he was playing that night in Tulsa.

When the concert was supposed to begin, a guy came out on stage and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Leo Kottke!” Then Leo walked out to the cheers of a couple hundred of us, picked up one of his guitars, sat down, and started to play.

I sat on the front row and learned to hate Leo Kottke.

Let me explain that. My envy bubbled up like hatred, but it was really just acute admiration and awe. Here’s why.

Sitting to my left were two pretty college girls. I really wanted to talk to them, but I was shy and though I’d convinced myself I wasn’t a high school boy any longer, they wouldn’t have known that. They were WOMEN! And if I’d lied and said I was in college too, their next question, no matter what it was, would have revealed that I was a phony.

But LEO talked to them.

While he played his 12 string guitar!

As his fingers flew flawlessly up and down the neck of his guitar, producing unbelievable music from the 12 string, he carried on a conversation with these two girls! As if he were two different people: the musician and the conversationalist! “Thanks for coming. How are you ladies? Are you from Tulsa? Oh, you’re in college? Where do you go to college? What are you majoring in? blah, blah, fricken, blah!” He was doing two things I couldn’t do and he was doing those two things at the SAME TIME! THE SAME TIME!


Leo sings, but he’s not a particularly good singer. So I took some solace in that. At least he wasn’t great at everything! Allegedly, before he picked up the guitar he tried to play the trombone and sucked at it. So there was that.

In all truth, I sat there mesmerized and spellbound.

I’d driven all that way and lied to my moms just so I could hear him play one particular song, “A Good Egg.” I was like a kid on Christmas morning waiting impatiently for their parent’s signal that they could come in and see what Santa had brought. When at last I heard the first note of that song I knew so well, I could literally feel the muscles in my face starting to fatigue from the big grin I couldn’t suppress. I’d long since abandoned my attempt to look cool in front of these college girls. I was in the presence of greatness and just wanted to soak it all in.

After the concert, Leo hung around and talked and signed autographs. I had no pen or paper, but I did manage to meet him and babble something inane. “Mr. Kottke, sir, I er uh … well, that’s to say, um … your music … you see, uh well … I really like it.” (Oh, lord, did I REALLY just say all of that nonsense … pathetic … geez.) He probably glanced over to Security and gave them a nod in my direction, alerting them to the borderline stalker blabbering on in front of him. Leo Kottke was gracious and patient with this young runaway from Arkansas.

Leo Kottke transcended “good at something” to the level of “phenomenal at something.” It was the first time I’d been in the presence of that kind of spectacular. I knew people who were good at things, but I knew no one who was phenomenal at anything. A few years earlier, my 8th grade English teacher told me that she “expected greatness” from me. A burden for which I was unsuited to bear. I wasn’t great at anything and saw no visible means toward that end in the future.

I was an average 17 year old kid, ordinary, and unremarkable. I was an average athlete. An average, to sort of above average, student. (I had to work twice as hard to be a “good” student.) I had no talent and no means to achieve “greatness.” It wasn’t until years later that I realized there were things I could actually excel at. I could have a great curiosity. I could exercise great kindness. I could be a great friend. My sense of loyalty and duty could be great. I could have a great sense of humor. I could have a great work ethic. I could read great books. I could serve a great country.

Unlike talents and skill-sets that can fade, none of those things—curiosity, kindness, friendship, loyalty—deteriorate with time.

You might not care for Leo Kottke’s style of music, and that’s okay. There’s no accounting for taste. But you’d certainly have to acknowledge his talent. I don’t care for jazz, or country, or hip-hop, or rap, or polka, or death metal … but I can recognize the talented players in those genres. When I lived in Japan I attended several concerts featuring traditional Japanese music. The Shamisen is a Japanese banjo that’s so difficult to play that new students generally practice for months before they’re able to make any kind of noise come from it. You and I might not care for the Shamisen, but we can all admire the dedication of those who play it well, or at all.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have the talent and skill of those musicians, or athletes, or writers, or whatever, who seemingly are from a different planet. We call them “stars” and “super stars” for a reason. Their gifts and talents are so rare they don’t even seem human. We mortals just sit back and admire them. I own two guitars and have tried to play them over the years, but I barely sound like more than a first year guitar student.

My first night with Leo Kottke confirmed the fact that I was average, at best, and would only be granted the gift of recognizing genius without the ability to achieve it.

My mom passed away in 2012 and of course I never told her about the trip to Tulsa, Leo Kottke, sleeping in my backseat parked at a Howard Johnson’s, none of it. A few months after that concert I was on a plane to Parris Island and the Corps and confessions to mom about my solo high school road trip didn’t seem necessary after that. But I always felt bad about lying to her. I still do.

I’ve seen Leo Kottke several times since that Tulsa gig. He’s 71 years old now and still going strong. In fact, I saw him here in Memphis just last year! And he played “A Good Egg” again … for me, I’m sure!

— 30 —


Next Tuesday morning, the 5:30 class will meet at St. Mary’s track. St. Mary’s is located at Perkins and Walnut Grove.



If you’d like to pay using VENMO, you may! I’m Tony Ludlow on VENMO!

If you’re unfamiliar with VENMO, it’s a payment app for your phone (or computer) owned by PayPal and functions like a check. You can LITERALLY make a payment on your phone in less time than it takes to fill out a check! Click, click, click, done! All done!


by First Sergeant Ashley Holloway, MS, RD, LDN,
(An Registered Dietitian has a BS in Food Science, followed by a one year internship through an accredited university, and then with the recommendation of the internship program’s supervisor, a national examination is required. After that, an RD must have continuing education units annually in order to remain active and registered. An RD is an expert, not a hobbyist or a “food enthusiast.” You could follow the nutrition advice of some Facebook friend of a friend … or you could follow the advice of a scientist.)

Ashley recommends that you read this excellent article from the New York Times.







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!






Have a GREAT Thursday!

Yours in good health and fitness!

Sgt. Tony

Posted by Tony Ludlow | in Uncategorized | No Comments »

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