FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) - As members of Fort Riley's Combat Aviation Brigade continue to deploy to Afghanistan this month, one soldier is preparing to bring his unique set of skills overseas to help motivate his fellow troops.
Specialist Mathew Chesang is a crew chief who works on OH-58 Delta Romeo helicopters in the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade. He's also an experienced distance runner who is making a name for himself on the Army Ten-Miler team.
He runs an average of 10 miles a day before he starts work.
Chesang is originally from Kenya. He earned a scholarship to run at Kansas State University and was named an All-American cross country runner. Seeing career potential in the Army, he chose to serve.
"That’s a good thing with the Army- they support you. If you have a talent, they support you and the Army has been very supportive to me with the running," he told WIBW.
And his talents on the track have translated into his work in the Army.
"To be successful in the Army, you have to be disciplined. And teamwork- in the Army, we have a lot of teamwork. If you work as a team, you get things done faster. And being disciplined to because training as a runner, it requires a lot of discipline. You have to be dedicated. And that applies to the Army too," Chesang said.
He is modest about his athleticism but other soldiers have taken notice. He's drawn his comrades to running and Chesang is happy to offer training tips and encouragement- something he’ll continue to do when he deploys to Afghanistan for nine months with his unit.
"They see what I do and they like it- my work ethic, the way I train hard during my running. I give them ideas and advice on how to be a disciplined runner," he explained.
"His running, in addition to being a good crew chief, allows him to do two services for the Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) which is work on the helicopters, providing for the pilots to support the ground force but also provide inspiration to his fellow soldiers both here at the CAB, the 1st Infantry Division and in the Army on running and the benefits of running," added Captain Andrew Cochran, Public Affairs Officer for the Combat Aviation Brigade.
Chesang says it's the perfect balance between work and his passion.
To shed light on his record, Chesang helped “Big Red One” soldiers take third place in the 2012 Army 10-Miler in Washington, DC. Chesang placed 27th overall out of more than 30,000 runners. He took sixth place in the 30 to 34 age division, which boasted 1,875 runners. The 31-year old clocked a time of 52:14.
At Fort Riley’s 2013 Victory Week 10-Miler, Chesang crossed the finish line first., clocking a time of 56:16.
He says the farthest he's ever run was a full marathon.
"I'm addicted to running and I love my job. I’m going to keep on doing both because I love them," he said.