John Troxell is passionate about training and improving. He’s even tracked bodybuilding, powerlifting, and even strongman competitions over the years. As a strongman fan, he was a fan of Magnus ver Magnusson, quadruple strongest man in the world. This passion has carried over into his training sessions, which sometimes involve lifting and carrying a massive stone that he guards.
“I call it the Husafell Stone,” Troxell said, paying homage to the legendary stone that resides in Magnusson’s home country of Iceland. Obviously, he doesn’t see fitness as something to do just for a hobby. For him, fitness is part of who he is and what he does. This is because Army Commander Sergeant Major Troxell has dedicated most of his life to staying fit for himself and, more importantly, as a leader of many brave people who have served in the US Army.
John Troxell started his career when he joined the army on September 1, 1982. He remembered the date as if it were his own birthday, because it meant so much to him. Very early on, he had already understood the importance of the commitment he was making. This importance grew even greater after joining the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He received orders for his first period of combat duty. Troxell would be part of Operation Just Cause. As a paratrooper, Troxell had to jump from planes to places where his services were needed. This made his dangerous job even more dangerous.
“We jumped out of the plane, landed where we landed and had to get to work,” he recalls. “I had already understood the magnitude of my job before going on a mission, but when I went on a real combat tour for the first time, it took it to a new level for me.
Troxell shared that he finally decided he needed to make his service a long-term career. He would see four more combat tours during his 37-year career, including one tour for Operation Desert Storm, two tours for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and one for Operation Enduring Freedom. Throughout his tours, he found that training and maintaining top form not only helped him be better prepared personally, but also as a leader. The soldiers under his watch noticed what he was doing, and they followed suit. Troxell was the personification of the phrase “leading by example”.
“They would see what I was doing that morning and they would go through the same training sessions. They wanted to follow me every day because they knew I was going to stay on top of my game for them. Therefore, they wanted to look their best for me too.
John Troxell even took this passion to training to the next level by participating in amateur bodybuilding shows. Although he enjoyed both the process and the stage experience, he eventually discovered that the need to look his best for duty was more important than symmetry and proportion.
“I did my thing on stage and I have a few trophies. I’ve never won a competition and twice placed second, but training for performance and doing my job on the pitch required another kind of focus and discipline.
At the end of his career, he would eventually be appointed Third Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEAC) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He held this position from December 2015 until his retirement
in December 2019. A career spanning 37 years in total is a vast amount of time to sum up in simple words, but when asked how Troxell managed to not just survive but thrive in his variety of roles, he said. credited three letters.
“I call it PME Hard—Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally Hard,” he explained. We need to train physically, mentally and emotionally to be better prepared for the worst possible situations. The people who were with me on those tours, and those I managed, needed me to be the best, and vice versa. So, I made sure to work as hard as possible in all facets. So, I used weights, ran with rucks, and found ways to make things harder so I could improve.
Although he no longer wears the uniform, Troxell maintains this SME mindset, and he wants to see others embrace this philosophy now and in the future. November is National Military Fitness and Wellness Month – a month dedicated to helping raise awareness of the importance of health and fitness for both retired serving members of the Armed Forces. It’s a cause Troxell feels he can speak to, and he hopes he can inspire others by sharing his story. Even though he’s been retired for three years now, he still does his best to lead by example.
“It is very important that my brothers and sisters in service continue to take care of themselves because we can be the next example for the next generation to follow.” He shared. “Our country is facing recruiting challenges today, and there aren’t as many future recruits who meet the standards we need.”
Many veterans don’t stay as dedicated to their fitness routines because they are focused on other aspects of life or just want to push beyond what they were doing before. They may also feel like they can’t work around their wounds, so they live with it. Troxell disagrees with that belief and feels it’s important that veterans strive to improve for another reason. As hard as they have worked to protect our freedom, they should always be able to enjoy it themselves.
“Our commitment to ourselves need not be as intense as it was when we were on active duty, but we still owe it to ourselves, our families and our communities to do this. that we can to be here. We won’t live forever, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to live forever, or at least as long as possible so we can reap the rewards of what we’ve done to protect our freedom.”