Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Intern Tales Chapter 1: Inspiration, Sandhills RS and Punk Jeopardy

“In our Army every soldier must care about his job. Often- if the duty seems menial or humdrum- it is hard to cultivate this attitude. But it must be done. What you do in your job each day, you do for the Army.”

Sgt. Maj. of the Army William O. Wooldridge

About a month ago when I was first applying for an internship with the Columbia Recruiting Battalion and anxiously trying to learn as much as I could about the Army, I came across this quote by Sgt. Maj. of the Army William O. Wooldridge. I liked it, and the idea it presented of a working environment where everyone isn’t just trying to make it through the week, but is inspired to bring their best every day, because they’re working for the Army.

So far in my experience as an intern, I’ve found that the people I work with live up to this quote, and do care about their jobs. These are the people I’ll be blogging about over the next few months, as I discover more about what they do and the cause they serve. 

Last night I visited the Sandhills Army Recruiting Station to observe their Future Soldier Training Program. Staff Sgt. Culaine Brown is the Future Soldier manager, and has built up the station’s program to be one of the most successful. These weekly trainings kick-off with a 20 minute drill practice led by recruiters or the especially skillful Future Soldiers. Last night, a Future Soldier with four years of JROTC experience marched the platoon and corrected their form for the recruiters’ inspection.

Following the D&C (Drill and Ceremony) practice, Brown taught a session about Land Navigation and Map Reading, demonstrating the tools and skills the Future Soldiers will need to pass Basic Training. Staff Sgt. Katherine Fortner explained to me the benefit the Future Soldiers receive by going a program such as Brown had created. She reported how the soldiers have enough difficulties while in Basic Training, so being knowledgeable about the various tasks they will be tested on really makes the experience easier. Completing the Future Soldiers training program, if nothing else, assures them that they won’t be one of the unlucky soldiers singled out for not knowing the answer to a question, or how to complete a task. The Land Navigation and Map Reading skills especially are not ones that soldiers want to realize they’re lacking at Basic Training, when dropped in the middle of nowhere and left to find their way back.    

The recruiters also used this training to explain the new protocol following the repealing of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” What can be a sensitive topic, Brown handled with tact by reminding the Future Soldiers that, while everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, “You’re soldiers. You’re not here to judge or critique, just worry about yourselves.” He also warned them about using any offensive words for gays and lesbians, saying “If I hear it, and I’m a ninja, I will hear it, I will jump down your throat.”

The training closed with a suspenseful round of Brown’s “Punk Jeopardy” to quiz the Future Soldiers on the training they had received and, most importantly, the Soldier’s Creed. Each Future Soldier was matched with a Battle Buddy, and both had to answer questions correctly before either was allowed to sit. To further emphasize the importance of doing everything with a team attitude, the entire group was given 30 seconds of planking for each missed question. With Punk Jeopardy, as with every other aspect of the training program, Brown and the recruiters encourage the Future Soldiers’ development of the Army Values, so that the Future Soldiers will graduate training with not only the knowledge and skills to succeed in the Army, but the character as well.  

 By Haley Pearson, Columbia US Army Recruiting Battalion Intern

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