MOUNT FUJI, Japan (AFNS) --
Resiliency. It's a word that every Airman serving today should know, as it's the cornerstone of the Air Force's Comprehensive Airman Fitness.
The CAF is built upon four pillars that help build resilient Airmen: physical, spiritual, mental and social.
Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, tested many of those pillars as they climbed Japan's tallest mountain, Mount Fuji July 11, 2015. The climb, which reaches an altitude of 12, 389 feet, started at the 5th station, at 7, 562 feet elevation and took four to seven hours to accomplish.
Yokota Airmen had a special guest climbing alongside them, as Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody climbed to the summit of Fuji with the group.
"Having the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force climb alongside us was a great bonus," said Staff Sgt. Kelcey McDonald, U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific-Asia audio engineer. "I got a chance to shake hands with him on the journey and talk with him at the top of the mountain."
But, the trip up the mountain wasn’t an easy trip, and when challenged, Airmen had to rely upon those pillars of resiliency to accomplish their goal of reaching the summit.
"The challenges I faced were spiritual, mental and physical," Mc Donald said. "When I wanted to quit, I had to believe my higher power would help me make it to the top, even as I debated in my mind how much I had left versus how much I'd already climbed."
Despite the challenges, McDonald was able to reach the summit, which he attributes to his resiliency and the importance of having a wingman.
"Being resilient and having an Airman wingman were critical to my success," McDonald said. "You have another voice to encourage you and remind you that you are not alone in the journey."
Building that wingmanship is a core aspect of resiliency according to Cody.
"Team building is building resiliency," Cody said. "When you learn things about people, get to know them on a more personal level, start to think about them a little bit differently, start to care about them differently, it does go to the resiliency."
That resiliency and wingmanship was important as members climbed to the top of the mountain.
"You draw strength from one another," Cody said. "People definitely drew strength from each other today."
In the end, McDonald said it was a great experience, heightened by having the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force lead the way.
"This is another example of our top Airmen leading the way," McDonald added. "It was great to have him there at the summit to welcome those who have followed the path and achieved the same outcome."