MACDILL AFB, FL — At the edge of a grainy surveillance video taken last month of the main entrance of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Maj. Eric Newburgh is just visible, running at a speed so incredible, it may just make him the fastest man alive.
Newburgh had not seen the video of his dash across the CENTCOM parking lot before being interviewed although he did recall the events.
“I had left my ID card in my computer and I had to go back to get it. Just as I shut my car door I heard the loud speaker click on so they could play Colors,” Newburgh told reporters. “Here at MacDill they play that buglely part at the beginning and then The Star Spangled Banner. It goes on for like two minutes and it was hot. I figured I could just make it inside before the song started.”
Newburgh made the 75 meters, a distance that has since been independently verified, from his car to the door of the CENTCOM command building in 7.177 seconds, 2/100th of a second faster than Usain Bolt’s world record 100 meter pace.
The irony of the story is that Newburgh failed his last Air Force Fitness Test because he could not complete a mile and a half run in 14 minutes.
“Yeah, I guess I should be embarrassed but I wasn’t having a good day for the test,” Newburgh admitted, “I got the minimum for pushups and sit ups and I was real happy with that. I thought I was going to make the run in like 13:50 maybe 13:55. I didn’t expect 14:56. It was really humid that morning. I think that slowed me down.”
When asked if it was appropriate for a senior Air Force officer to work so hard to avoid paying respect to the American flag, Newburgh defended his actions. “Listen, I’m not a Marine and I’m not in the Army. It was like 96 degrees and humid like Africa that day. I didn’t ask to get assigned to Tampa. I wanted EUCOM but the Air Force wouldn’t send me. So no I don’t feel bad. It was hot in that parking lot.”
After setting such an amazing pace fleeing military honors, Newburgh agreed that if he failed his next physical fitness test it would show a lack of effort on his part. Fortunately, he is already planning for next time.
“I was driving down Adamo Drive the other day and I saw one of my neighbors coming out of one of the strip joints down there,” Newburgh said. “In addition to being a deacon in his church he’s also an Air Force flight surgeon. I don’t think I’m going to have any problem getting a permanent medical PT waiver.”