Army life Rail Gunner style
March 9, 2011
FORT HOOD, TexasAca,!"Rail Gunner Soldiers welcomed 80 Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, March 7, from the A J. Moore Academy out of Waco, Texas, and gave them an in-depth view of the multiple launch rocket systems, and the various weapons used within the 41st Fires Brigade.
The JROTC cadets had a chance to explore the different motor pools, and were given a small look inside the everyday life of the Soldiers from 41st Fires Brigade. The cadets were shown how to handle weapons, ate lunch at Roosevelt Hall Dining Facility, attended an award ceremony, and had their questions answered about military life.
The JROTC program at A.J. Moore Academy is designed to help the cadets experience life as Soldiers and help them to see the different varieties of jobs. The school's JROTC program is ran by retired Sgt. Maj. Willie Jones, a native of Pearson, Ga., and sergeant major for the program. The cadets come to Fort Hood yearly to visit units around post.
"My goal was for the cadets to meet combat Soldiers and get a feel for how things operate," said Jones. "By knowing (Command) Sgt. Maj. Hughes and others in this battalion, we called to see if they could host us. This is the first time the program has come to the 41st Fires Brigade. The cadets had a great time and enjoyed the hands-on experience. I'm glad that the Rail Gunners were able to support us and have us come out."
Pfc. Melissa Gomes, a native of Boston, a sergeants major assistant for Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Bde., set up the visit and demonstrations to show the cadets what field artillery Soldiers do on a daily basis.
"They got a taste of what it was like to be in the Army for a day," said Gomes. "The cadets learned a lot of cool things about weapons, rockets, and the workings of a fires brigade."
Sgt. David Summers, from Emmett, Iaho, a MLRS section crew chief for Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, gave classes on the .50 caliber machine gun.
"I am the armorer so they asked me to provide information for the group that was coming through," Summers. "I love training; that is my job as a noncommissioned officer. We went over simple loading procedures of the .50 cal, malfunctions, characteristics, mounting positions, range, and answered the cadet's questions."
The cadets had the opportunity to see what active duty Soldiers do and ask them questions about their experiences. Chris Elizondo, from Waco, Texas, and a junior at A.J. Moore Academy, was excited to see some active duty Soldiers and receive insight on what to expect when he's able to join.
"I'm planning on joining the Marines or the Army when I graduate," said Elizondo. "The Soldiers taught me a lot today and taught me a few things about what to expect. But I was mostly excited about handling the M203 grenade launcher and learning what the .50 caliber can do when mounted to a tank. I can wait to get back and tell my friends about my experiences here today."
Command Sgt. Maj. Kelvin Hughes, from Shreveport, La., said the goal of the visit was to show the cadets a more realistic view on how the Army operates.
"This is an experience that they should cherish because a lot of people won't get a first-hand experience like this." said Hughes. "I wanted the cadets to leave the brigade with valuable information and the opportunity of being around Soldiers and military equipment. I think talking to Soldiers and being submerged into the military lifestyle creates a better picture than hear-say and second hand knowledge."
The cadets went home knowing a little more about the Army. They left with an experience that not a lot of people get to see before they enlist. The cadets handled weapons, went inside vehicles, ate at the DFAC, and even two Soldiers were given Rail Gunner coins for excellence for their hard work and dedication throughout the school year.