FORT BRAGG, N.C.—Maj. Sandra Jones has been whispered about throughout the SERE—survive, evade, resist, escape—community for weeks, as one of the very few attendees ever who seemed to completely enjoy the stressful training.
“We can’t put our finger on it. We usually get the younger kids through this course, but Maj. Jones is a little older. We think that’s the secret to her high level of resiliency,” said Sgt. Maxwell Payne, a member of the SERE cadre that oversaw Jones’ training.
Jones believes her secret is motherhood.
“I got a little nostalgic when the cadre started to kick me,” Jones said. “Getting kicked in the pelvis from the outside isn’t much compared to getting kicked in the pelvis from the inside, though. So far, I’ve spent 27 months of my life getting kidney punched from internal angles, this was three weeks. Pfffffffffff.”
Then she began to laugh uncontrollably.
Officially, no one in SERE school ever sleeps more than fifteen minutes at a time. However, several accounts say Jones is the exception. She has proven to be able to sleep through Disney movies played on endless loops, slaps to the face, and attempts at waking her before the sun rose.
“She’s a machine,” Sgt. Payne concluded.
Jones’ success has completely shifted the way the instructor cadre has been approaching the concept of resiliency and leadership.
“She really took charge when any of her SERE classmates were crying, sometimes threatening them with ‘I’ll give you something to cry about,’” followed by an ear pull, one instructor said. The cadre found those moments difficult to control, as Jones clearly became a force to be taken seriously.
“I couldn’t slap her. She would giggle every time and then give me a stern look. We had to bring someone from the outside in. It just felt like I was hitting my mom,” one cadre member said.
Jones went on record in the after-action review that she was a little disappointed that the school wasn’t harder, but she was thankful for the rest.
“They tried stripping me as some sort of punishment, thinking I’d feel violated,” she told instructors. “I’m going to be honest with you: I felt reborn. Then they peed on me in some strange assertion of dominance—that, and I think they wanted to make the males uncomfortable. Let me tell you, that is NOT the most pee I’ve had on me at any given time.”
“I had twin boys, honey, and I've changed a lot of diapers.”
Despite her perfect score, Jones is hoping the Army will let her attend again soon.
“I found a lot of me time out here. I didn’t even remember how that felt,” Jones said.
Blondesoverbagdad contributed to this article.