DS graduates entire platoon
July 6, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (July 4, 2012) -- Forty-five Soldiers in 1st Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, graduated from basic training Tuesday. Standing in formation on Soldier Field at the National Infantry Museum, they represented 100 percent of the Soldiers who first joined the platoon nine-and-a-half weeks ago.
For Staff Sgt. Deon Pearman, they represented the realization of a hard-sought goal.
"I make a goal to graduate more and more privates each cycle," the drill sergeant said. "Just whatever I did the last cycle, I set my goal a little bit higher the next cycle. What was unique (about this cycle) is all of them are going to graduate -- nobody quit."
In Pearman's 15 months as a drill sergeant, Tuesday marked the first time all his Soldiers graduated. Pearman said 100 percent is more of the exception than the rule.
"It's uncommon," he said. "People get homesick and they don't want to be here anymore, or there's some of training they just cant do. It's a good feeling to know that I had a group of young men who helped me achieve the goal I set."
One of the five mental skills underscored in Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, goal-setting was particularly applicable for Pearman as he focused in on his objective. CSF instructors taught him all the mental skills, so he could in turn train his Soldiers.
"Telling them to do it kept me motivated," he said. "You have to want to go somewhere. If you don't have goals, you don't know where you're going."
Pearman nearly didn't meet his goal for this cycle. Two days into training, one private was ready turn in his ACUs.
"I was concerned about being here," said Pfc. David Kranz. "I had some family stuff going on at home. I felt overwhelmed. I was like, all right, that's it. I'm determined; I'm done."
Kranz was worried about his father back in Michigan. He had also recently married and was the first in his family, except his step-brother, to ever join the military. He said it was all a "complete change" for him.
"So Day 2, I considered leaving," he said. "I went and talked to Drill Sergeant about it, and he said 'no'. He said, 'This is something you can do. This is something to better your life, to better your family.' It was a struggle to keep myself going but … I feel relieved."
When Pearman talked with him, he encouraged him to think clearly about such a decision.
"I told him he was homesick," Pearman said, "and to start looking at the reasons why he wanted to join. He wasn't thinking about what he really wanted to do."
Because he stuck with it, Kranz said he's actually in a better position to help his family. He's also learned to adapt to new situations and made several new friends among his battle buddies -- many of whom also encouraged him to see the training through.
"I think there's a huge difference," Kranz said, referring to where he was on Day 2 and where he is now. "I feel better about being here instead of worrying about everything going on back home. I know everything's taken care of. I've got people here I can lean on. The drill sergeants have been helpful for giving us an idea of what we have to look forward to."
Kranz' wife and father-in-law drove from Michigan to attend the graduation. It was a brief visit for Kranz, who's headed to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he'll train to become a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist.
"I'm really glad I stayed," he said. "It's one of those things where the tunnel looks long and dark until you get to the other end. (Pearman) has been probably our most motivational drill sergeant here. So having him, we all feel great about graduating."
Pearman, who will continue training troops on Sand Hill until March, said there was a time he, too, wanted to quit, but he reminded himself of what he told his Soldiers.
"I can't quit on them," he said. "I have to show what right looks like."