FAIRFIELD — Chief Master Sgt. Terry Monges is at an age where he should be complaining about his aching joints and graying hair.
That’s not to say he’s old. At 50, he has no plans of retiring. Though he can call himself a grandpa, he sure doesn’t act like one.
Within the past few years alone, he’s perfected the six-minute mile, has become a CrossFit enthusiast and has completed the Iron Man Triathlon – consisting of a 2.5-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
Monges has done all this plus served with the Air Force for 32 years. He is a boom operator at Travis Air Force Base on the KC-10 Air Refuelers for the 79th Air Refueling Squadron.
The Washington native signed up in 1981 and has served ever since.
Monges, who hardly looks his age, can remember a time when military training used low-tech models for demonstrations instead of the high-definition simulators used today.
He remembers the first time the U.S. bombed Libya under President Ronald Reagan, Desert Storm and the Cold War. One of his more famous “missions” was flying Keiko the whale, better known from the movie “Free Willy,” from Mexico City to Oregon.
Monges said he doesn’t really live in the past. While many others his age or older like to talk about the good old days, he said he prefers to challenge himself in the present.
That’s part of the reason he is such a fitness buff.
When Monges was younger, he didn’t enjoy running or fitness activities much because of a knee problem. He was hesitant to have surgery, but at 30, he decided he was “too young not to be active,” he said.
That difference in his step after surgery, he said, was astounding.
“I thought, ‘Wow you (can) actually run and not be in pain,’ ” he said.
Ellen Hatfield, the deputy chief of public affairs for the 349th Air Mobility Wing, said Monges is known around base as the “poster child” for fitness. Monges has become such an avid runner since his surgery that he helps younger airmen with their running form.
“Running is like a swim stroke or golf swing,” he said. “If you can, eliminate the unnecessary movements that waste energy.”
Monges said he isn’t sure what’s next for him – maybe, Hatfield suggested, he should open a gym. But for now, he said he loves all the energy he has.
“I came into fitness later in life,” he said. “It’s kind of a benefit.”
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.