Lifting for a purpose

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tori Long
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – After high school, Raymond, from Blissfield, Michigan, lacked a sense of direction. He always wanted to join the military, but when an old friend and coach offered him a spot on the Siena Heights University track and field team he jumped at the opportunity in 2009.


Raymond’s coach had drafted him for his uncanny size with the thought that he would excel in the field portion of track and field.

 “I was the pudgy kid that wasn’t good and the discus implements were too big for my hands so they gave me a hammer to throw,” said Airman 1st Class Raymond Carney II, client systems technician assigned to the 6th Communications Squadron.


Things were looking up for Carney. This was going to be his thing. At least, that was his thought process before the first day of weight lifting.

 “The first weight lifting session I had with the team I failed a 200-pound squat,” said Carney. “It was humiliating being crushed under the weight, but became a pivotal moment in my life.”

Instead of letting that failure keep him down, Carney looked to succeed in the very thing that embarrassed him in front of all of his peers that fateful day – power lifting.

Carney took advice from his coach and began training in the gym any chance he got. By the end of the year he was able to squat 415 pounds and continued to push himself.

“Further into my college career another coach took interest in me,” said Carney. “He told me ‘you need to slim down you can’t just be the fat strong guy, you need to be able to run, jump, and be an overall athlete.’”

After cutting down weight, Carney became number one in the country for 10 consecutive months.

Carney became the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All American his fnal season of track, but lifting was still his passion. Jim Wetenhal, a power-lifting coach in Toledo, Ohio, took Carney under his wing and trained him to compete as a power lifter.

“Jim is like a father to me and brought me to my first power-lifting competition in 2013,” said Carney. “I deadlifted 617 pounds and ended up winning the competition. I was told I had a lot of potential and expanded into bench press and squats.”

Overtime Carney had success in his career as a business owner and continued to attend power lifting competitions. One day, he decided working 80 hours a week and making money wasn’t enough and acted on his dream of serving in the military.

“I’ve always wanted to join the military,” said Carney. “I felt it was something I was supposed to do and it was time for a change in my life.”

In order for Carney to enlist in the military he had to lose 60 pounds because he was considered over weight and would not pass a physical fitness test. He quickly realized he needed to change his style of power lifting to gear lifting to be successful in the military. Gear lifting allows Carney to lift heavy weight at a smaller body weight.

“As a geared lifter, I wear specialized lifting suits that help support and protect the body,” said Carney. “I am a multiply lifter which means the suits have multiple layers of material to add more support,” said Carney.


Shortly after moving to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Carney was picked up by Blessed Iron Barbell club and after seven weeks was making progress and won a deadlift competition in April 2017.

“This competition hit a soft spot for me,” said Carney. “The last time I competed in this competition was in front of my pops before he passed away.”

Carney’s next goal is to compete at the World Powerlifting Championships in Orlando next fall.

After competing in Orlando Carney will begin training for the World Class Athlete Program to compete in the hammer throw for the Air Force.

“I have big ambitions, but I have the support I need and I haven’t got to the point where my progress is at a standstill,” said Carney. “Power lifting has translated into all aspects of my life and I plan on lifting for the next 20-30 years and excelling in everything I do.”