Soldiers lead civilians across a creek while conducting bayonet training during the day in the life of a Soldier event June 8 on Fort Drum. Civilians joined Soldiers on four events to experience a glimpse of Army life.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Civilians from surrounding areas traveled June 8 to Fort Drum, where they had an opportunity to experience a day in the life of a Soldier.

The day began with an introduction and opening remarks from Brig. Gen. Harry E. Miller Jr., senior commander Fort Drum, and Lt. Col. Sean Bernabe, commander of 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. After the briefing, everyone boarded buses and traveled to the first location.

There were four events scheduled for the day, including a confidence course designed to challenge Soldiers to put their fear aside and work together. Civilian guests watched a squad of Soldiers from 2-14 Infantry complete each obstacle, and then they were given an opportunity to negotiate the obstacles themselves.

They also witnessed a squad of Soldiers completing a bayonet course in which they engaged targets in close combat. During the bayonet course, a “wounded” Soldier had to be carried on a litter. Four civilians carried the litter for about 100 meters, showing them the difficulties of carrying a wounded Soldier out of combat.

“It is extremely physically grueling,” said state Assemblywoman Addie Russell, representing the 118th District. “We all expected it to be physically tough, but today, with it being 90 (degrees) and very humid, it gives me more of an appreciation for what Soldiers have to endure day in and day out.

“It was an up-close, face-to-face reality check,” she added. “Our Soldiers are training for something that is very serious and puts them in danger so that we can live the free life we all live here in the (United) States.”

The buses took everyone to a range, where guests witnessed a live-fire training exercise.

Soldiers described the weapons systems they were firing, explaining the uses and benefits of each one. The civilians also put on a field pack, to feel the weight a Soldier may have to carry.

“We’ve been to Fort Drum twice. We’ve seen a variety of things; each one was a learning experience for us,” said Dean Jordan, a project designer for a company in Binghamton. “The confidence and bayonet courses were great, (and) the live-fire was awesome.”

For lunch, one group ate Meals, Ready to Eat, or MREs, with Soldiers from 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT. Each group was shown how Army cooks prepare hot chow for Soldiers while in the field or deployed.

Soldiers of 210th BSB also showed civilians the functions and uses of humvees and body armor, and explained how important they are to complete missions.

“Every place we went, every Soldier was extremely polite and helpful; every question we had was answered,” Jordan said.

“This was a great opportunity to bring civilians in to see what Soldiers do every day,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Chavez, 2-14 Infantry fire support noncommissioned officer in charge. “It gave them a chance to see what Soldiers are capable of (and) what our Soldiers do on a daily basis, and (it) also gave them a chance to try the different obstacles and challenges we face every day.”

Seeing their enthusiasm was very motivating, Chavez said, adding the event went very well.

Page last updated Wed June 15th, 2011 at 00:00