Into the Woods: Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood
September 8, 2012
Part four of series: Basic Combat Training week three
Aug. 26 to Sept. 1
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- (Sept. 6, 2012) Week three of Basic Combat Training held many physical and mental challenges for the 199 Soldiers in Company C, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment.
"(On) Monday, Charlie Comanches headed out to the Physical Endurance Course where Soldiers negotiated a series of highly challenging obstacles -- ropes, tires, barbed wire, etc. -- as a test of agility, muscular strength and endurance," said Lt. Col. Erik Anderson, 1-48th Inf. Bn. commander. "This physically and mentally challenging event is designed to build the Soldier's confidence and assess his/her overall physical fitness. This one's a smoker."
On Tuesday they negotiated the hand grenade assault course.
"That's right -- real, live hand grenades. Not to worry. Before the Soldiers receive two live M67 High Explosive Hand Grenades to throw, they received extensive training on proper carrying, arming, aiming and throwing techniques," Anderson said.
They also negotiated the hand grenade assault course requiring them to employ a practice inert grenade at various targets such as a bunker, a trench and enemy targets. Soldiers must receive a "go" at the low wall, the high wall and on the assault course before they are cleared for the live grenade bay, Anderson said.
"It's very stressful. They have something in their hand that could potentially kill them," said Sgt. Vasilios Palamaras, Co. C, 1-48th Inf. Bn. drill sergeant. "If you have never thrown a highly-explosive device, you don't want to do it in combat for the first time. We give them the opportunity to experience it now so they are familiar, comfortable and safe later."
On Wednesday, the troops faced another confidence builder -- Warrior Tower, a 35-foot rappel.
Sgt. 1st Class Derek Afalava, Company C, 1-48th Inf. Bn. senior drill sergeant said this training event is more than learning to rappel.
"It's a personal thing for these Soldiers. It will get them over their fear of heights. A lot of times, as privates, they don't realize it's their own fear that holds them back from accomplishing their goals." Afalava said. "They are seeing what they are made of; what they have inside them. They are building the Army values inside them as they train."
Thursday started off early with a four-kilometer road march to a land navigation site. Using nothing more than a map, a compass, and their knowledge of the terrain, Soldiers had three hours to find three out of five points during the daylight phase of training and two out three points during the night phase.
"This can be a challenging event for Soldiers who have not spent a great deal of time in the woods prior to attending Basic Combat Training," Anderson said.
Then on Friday they had their first Field Training Exercise, learning the basics of field craft -- occupying an assembly area, preparing a hasty fighting position, erecting a field expedient shelter and basic movement techniques as a member of a squad.
Saturday rounded out the week of training with Modern Army Combatives training.
As the Soldiers enter week four, they are entering their first week of White Phase.
Here is what the four Soldiers had to say about week three:
Pvt. Tayler Douglas, 18, Los Angeles, Calif.
MOS: 68P Radiology Specialist
Hand grenade training: "It was really cool. It could kill me if I didn't do it properly."
Rappelling: "I didn't get nervous. I've got it, but I'm iffy about heights."
Physical Endurance Course: "I was so tired at the end of it, but I was motivated."
Something you learn about your battle buddy: "Pvt. Cargo's age. I thought she was 18, but she's 23. She has a baby-face."
Pvt. Andrew Jobes, 18, Eminence, Ind.
MOS: 13D Field Artillery Automated Tactical Data Systems Specialist
Hand grenade training: "It was fun. I had no idea grenades were so explosive. They are more powerful than I though they were."
Rappelling: "I'm not very heavy so it's hard to get the rope to slack out like I need it to. Heights don't really bother me. It's exciting. I am confident in all this safety equipment."
Physical Endurance Course: "2nd platoon lost to 1st platoon, but it was really close. It's a lot of endurance, but it was really fun."
Something you learn about your battle buddy: "Pvt. Henderson can follow directions really well. I can too, so we work well together."
Pvt. Darwin Rivera, 21, Puerto Rico
MOS: 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic
Hand grenade training: "It was weird. I have never done that before. I liked it."
Rappelling: "I have never done that either. It's fun, like an extreme sport."
Physical Endurance Course: "I really liked that. I had to represent my platoon. I was one of the five best of my platoon, so I got to do it twice. I enjoyed it. Getting up the rope was really awesome."
Something you learn about your battle buddy: "They can't understand me. All of them try to help me. They come to me and make sure I understand. Then they explain to me."
Pvt. Jessica Vanheel, 22, Waite Park, Minn.
MOS: 36B Financial Management Technician
Hand grenade training: "I was so nervous. They said if you milk it, it might explode. I was careful."
Rappelling: "I am comfortable with it. It's fun, but the rope hurts."
Physical Endurance Course: "It was challenging."
Something you learn about your battle buddy: "Nothing really surprises me about Pvt. White, we are pretty much the same. We get along well."