Infantry recruits in their second week of one station unit training with C Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, reached new heights June 16 when they faced several challenges at the Eagle Tower confidence course.

The 60-foot tower tests each Soldier's physical strength, endurance and ability to overcome obstacles.

"This course teaches the troops to get over their fear and it builds their confidence," said CPT Erik Schefstad, company commander. "That's why we do it early in the cycle. If they overcome their fears now, they'll be better prepared for what's to come."

The tower consists of several rope climbs, a ladder climb and a rappel off the top of the tower.

But one of the biggest challenges Soldiers faced was taking the first step off the rappel tower, Schefstad said.

"Part of it is the fear of not knowing what's to come," he said. "It tests them mentally as well as physically."

PVT Jordan Rothermel, who is training to be an Infantryman with the Missouri National Guard, said he was afraid of heights and needed to build himself up mentally for the rappel.

"I don't know why heights bother me," he said. "My mom said when I was a baby if someone would hold me up high in the air I would cry."

Rothermel, who successfully completed the descent, said he focused on looking up, not down.

"This course is teaching me if anything seems difficult or challenging, to just push through it and complete the mission," he said.

PFC Eric Teitloff said despite having rappelled before, he still finds the first step off the tower to be a difficult one.

"You've got to fall back and push off the tower. You have to believe the equipment won't fail," he said.

Teitloff said he looked forward to testing his skills on the rope climbs.

"As long as you keep your mind on it and go fast, it's pretty fun," he said.

PFC Ryan McCann, who will be assigned to the Minnesota National Guard upon graduation, said he felt the rope climb portion was great for building the "Soldier mentality."

"You have to attack the course and find your own way of getting up the ropes. It helps you later on as a Soldier to conquer challenges," he said.

The tower teaches Soldiers to believe not only in their equipment but themselves, said 1SG Nestor Gomez, the company's first sergeant.

Gomez said the troops take a lot away from the various obstacles and confidence courses OSUT will put them through in the coming weeks.

"They will understand how much they can push themselves," he said.

Following six more weeks of training, the troops are set to graduate Aug. 6.

Page last updated Fri June 26th, 2009 at 11:50