COEUR d'ALENE - Chad Bennett recalls the date with ease: July 5, 1990. That's when he arrived for active duty with the Army.
So right out of basic training, just 18 years old, he was sent to Iraq to join America's military forces in Operation Desert Storm.
He was there four months, and while he did not fall under fire, the threat of chemical attack loomed large.
Air raid sirens and alarms were constantly sounding. Almost daily, they were donning chemical protection suits.
"That was always in the back of your mind," he said. "Is that explosion going to be the next chemical attack?"
In 2008, he was deployed again to Iraq with an infantry unit. A medic, he ran a small aid station and went on patrols.
Again, he came home safe.
"Of all the times to pick, that was one of the better rotations to have," Bennett said. "Things had really, really cooled down for the year that we were there, so much to the point that we didn't lose a single soldier in our whole battalion, almost 2,000 soldiers, we didn't lose anybody."
The battalion they replaced wasn't so fortunate, he said, and neither was the battalion that came after them.
"In the military, there's always the threat something bad can happen. It's not going to be easy, nothing's ever easy when you're preparing for something like that," he said.
So you practice. You plan. You prepare.
Ironman is much the same way.
"If you look at it and say, 'This is going to be a piece of cake,' you're setting yourself up for potential failure," Bennett said.
Chad Bennett does not want to fail. That's why he works hard. That's why he executes well.
You have to when you're working full time, going to school full time, and in the National Guard. Oh, and add he's also a father of four who will be competing in Sunday's Ironman Coeur d'Alene.
How the hell does he pull it all together?
His military career helps.
"It absolutely does. In the military, you spend 90 percent of your time training for something, and maybe 10 percent actually doing it," he said Friday as he prepared to go for a swim in Lake Coeur d'Alene. "The Ironman is kind of the same way. Ninety percent is training, race day is 10 percent, the final stamp."
The Rathdrum man understands his task to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 and run 26.2 will be difficult. There will be times taking one more step feels like torture.
But he will take it.
"Physically, mentally, you work through the tough times, the anguish, the misery, you just kind if embrace it," Bennett said.
"It's the same way in the military, you just embrace the misery. You know it's not going to be easy."
The 40-year-old is not new to going the distance. He completed Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2005 in 14 hours, 26 minutes. He called it "an amazing race."
"I put a lot of work into it," he said.
This time, not much. He couldn't, not with a full-time job as a GI technician at Kootenai Medical Center, being in the RN program at North Idaho College, basically a full-time gig, and being a Sergeant First Class in the Washington Army National Guard.
He returned Monday from three weeks of training.
"All that just killed me for training this year," he said.
Still, the 5-10, 190-pound Bennett will give it his best, which is all he knows.
If the water is choppy Sunday, he'll be ready. If there's a strong headwind facing him on the bike, he'll be ready.
No complaints. Do what you have to do. Get it done.
"Mentally, I think I'm a lot farther along than I was before. You learn to kind of compensate for what you don't have physically, you make up for mentally," he said.
"The Ironman is not just all physical. I've always said your mind can push your body well beyond what it thinks it can do."
Bennett also has a little something to prove on Sunday.
He turned 40 in February, and is determined to show he can still kick some butt.
"There's a saying, if you didn't know how old you are, how old would you be? I consider myself still an adolescent in some regards.
"I'm stamped with that age of 40, but I've still got what it takes," Bennett continued. "I want to prove to myself 40's not really getting old."
He wants kids to know that life is more than TV, video games and phone apps. He wants them to know they can do what they set their minds on. They just have to have discipline. They just have to believe.
On Sunday, he'll show them.