Community Leaders Join Forces with Army Recruiting
February 22, 2012
By Jorge Gomez
MILWAUKEE -- Radio show host Earl Ingram has a new partner in his campaign to improve the lives of young men and women in Milwaukee. He used to say "the Army builds men" and not much more. That was before his experience at the U.S. Army All American Bowl in January.
Activities director Kevin Herrling, Appleton North High School, once thought the Army was a fall back option after exhausting all college offers. He didn't know the Army also has a rigorous admissions process. That was before he met with key Army brass at the nation's premier high school football game in San Antonio.
Ingram and Herrling were selected by the Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion to attend the All American Bowl and participate in activities leading up to the game. One of those activities was jumping out of an airplane with the U.S. Army's Parachute Team, also known as the Golden Knights.
"It was outstanding. One of the coolest experiences I've had. It was far out of my comfort range and it brought me a sense of accomplishment," Herrling said.
Ingram said he also felt an accomplishment by facing his fear of heights. He'll be able to tell a story of how he overcame his fears when he talks to young people but he credits the professionalism of the Knights. For it was the Parachute Team alone who was able to persuade Ingram to step out of an airplane at an altitude of 14,000 feet.
"The Golden Knights were impressive. They have great communication skills. It was because of their talent, wit and humor that I felt comfortable with them in the airplane," Ingram said. "To me, it showed how the Army is more than (just preparing for) war. It is a career opportunity."
Ingram has invited the Golden Knights to his broadcast on 1290 WMCS Radio AM in the summer during their tour to Milwaukee. He said he wants to communicate the message to young men and women that the Army is a way to realize one's dream.
In February, Ingram hosted Maj. Gen. David L. Mann, the U.S. Army Recruiting Command commanding general, on his show to reiterate some of the topics they discussed at the All American Bowl. The overall emphasis was placed on how the Army is looking for ways to partner with communities and schools to ensure that youth reach their full potential.
"The Army needs to give back to America and our recruiters are helping to keep kids in school, regardless of whether or not they join the Army," said Mann during the show with Ingram.
Ingram said that his conversations with Mann and other generals at the All American Bowl led him to see the Army in a different light.
"I had never thought of the Army that way, as a community partner," Ingram said.
He also said he didn't realize how fully integrated the Army was as an institution. In San Antonio he met Brig. Gen. Henry L. Huntley, U.S. Army Recruiting Command deputy commanding general; and Wisconsin native Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, U.S. Army Reserve deputy chief of individual augmentee mobilization.
"Seeing a (black) man and woman who have risen to that level of success shows diversity in the Army. That doesn't exist as much in the private sector. The Army represents the human family. The military can say that more than any other (institution) in this country," Ingram said.
Now he can even tell young ladies that they should aspire to join the Army since he has seen firsthand what kind of success a black female Soldier can attain.
But a thriving career in the Army does not begin until one succeeds in joining the Army. That's what Herrling said he discovered during his days in San Antonio.
"The Army is a lot more selective. (The requirement) to pass the ASVAB leaves very few qualified individuals," Herrling said.
He knew the Army would help Soldiers pay for college once they leave the service, but he wasn't aware of the Army's lifelong commitment to professionally develop Soldiers. Continuous military training and academic education are basic to Soldiers who make the Army a career.
As a result of his Army experience, Herrling said he is going to work on changing school officials' outdated attitudes toward the Army.
"We tend to push kids to college almost exclusively," Herrling said. "The Army is one of many good options to kids and we do them a disservice if we don't offer them a broad array of options. I have no qualms about steering kids in that direction based upon what I saw and what I learned there (in San Antonio)."
As the athletic activities director, Herrling has a lot of exposure to students and some influence with school counselors as well. He said he intends to use his influence to make the Army a goal in its own right.
The All American Bowl allowed the U.S. Army to enhance its connection with America, specifically teachers, students, parents and coaches, said Lt. Col. Frank P. O'Donnell, Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion commander.
"The positive results of sending leaders like Ingram and Herrling to the All American Bowl confirm the importance we placed on sending the right individuals to this Army event," O'Donnell said. "We trust that the knowledge and experience they gained about the Army will make them not only informed leaders, but active partners in our mission to extend opportunities to young men and women."
For more than 11 years, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has been the nation's premier high school football game, serving as the preeminent launching pad for America's future college and NFL stars. Adrian Peterson, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Lattimore, and Andrew Luck all made their national debuts as U.S. Army All-Americans. The 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl drew a crowd of nearly 38,000 to the Alamodome, and was the most-watched sporting event on television over the weekend, excluding the NFL playoffs.
For more information on the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and its related events visit www.usarmyallamericanbowl.com and www.goarmy.com/events/aab or the official Facebook and Twitter pages located at www.facebook.com/USArmyAllAmericanBowl and www.twitter.com/armyallamerican.