• Sgt. Ian Allen, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, takes his time helping civilians in Leadership Oklahoma as they eat their first MREs.

    Leadership Oklahoma

    Sgt. Ian Allen, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, takes his time helping civilians in Leadership Oklahoma as they eat their first MREs.

  • Fifty leaders from across the state gear up to watch M119 A2s fire Oct. 5 as part of their visit to Fort Sill.

    Leadership Oklahoma

    Fifty leaders from across the state gear up to watch M119 A2s fire Oct. 5 as part of their visit to Fort Sill.

  • Tom Buchanan, Altus farmer, rancher, irrigation district manager, handles a 105 mm round Oct. 5.

    Leadership Oklahoma

    Tom Buchanan, Altus farmer, rancher, irrigation district manager, handles a 105 mm round Oct. 5.

FORT SILL, Okla.-- A group of 50 leaders from across Oklahoma visited Fort Sill Oct. 4-6. This group was made up of people who know what it takes to run a business, make the decisions to stay afloat during tough economic times and know how to manage employees. What they learned was what it takes to be a Soldier.

"I have a new appreciation for what our Soldiers go through, what they do, what they have to learn, the self-discipline they have to have and the fact that they really have to rough it," said Susan Hardybrooks, Schnake Turnbo Frank Public Relations senior account executive.

The group was part of Leadership Oklahoma, an annual educational, issues-oriented 10-month program. Leaders from a wide geographic base and diverse backgrounds and vocations are exposed to the many social and environmental complexities of the state to stimulate inquiry, analysis and independent development of solutions for the public good, according to the LOK website.

The first stop on the 10-month journey is the Fires Center of Excellence. The group saw some of the many things that makes Fort Sill unique to the Army from the Field Artillery Half Section to field artillery and air defense artillery training.

They also got a taste of the basics in soldiering when their first crash course involved the same loud welcome drill sergeants give to every private who enters Basic Combat Training.

"The people who are defending our nation as they're learning the [Army life] and their jobs, certainly have a lifestyle that's much different than what the rest of us have," said Tom Buchanan, Altus farmer, rancher, irrigation district manager.

"I think the roughness of the drill sergeants was more intense than I expected it to be. It's really pretty intimidating. You understand why, but it's still unnerving and frustrating," said Hardybrooks with a laugh.

The group even got the chance to eat and sleep like basic trainees, pull fire guard duty and then wake up bright and early for good ol' physical training.

"We got here yesterday and certainly had our induction, so to speak, as newly arriving privates in the military here at Fort Sill," said Buchanan. "It was certainly eye opening from the standpoint of it's a fairly barren existence for the new guy in the Army. The housing was a little bit different than what I'm used to. It really enforced with me how spoiled I am and how I appreciate my creature comforts."

When they arrived at West Range Oct. 5 and lined up for their safety briefing there was a collective jump that coincided with the firing of an M119A2. The group saw the firepower that adds to the melody of Lawton-Fort Sill.

Afterwards they saw the high-tech training that happens inside the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000.

They also visited the Graham Resiliency Training Center where they discussed supporting force deployment, the training cycle and the Wounded Warrior Program with Fort Sill's leaders.

"The Leadership Oklahoma experience appealed to me from the standpoint of being able to meet individuals from across the state who are involved in all the economies that drive our state. It really was intriguing to be able to sit down with individuals and learn how they do things in their community and how we can make this state better as a whole," said Buchanan.

"I've wanted to do it for years. I think it's a great opportunity to learn everything that makes our state great and to be around other people who want to give back to the state, want to make a difference and make our state even better," said Hardybrooks.

Page last updated Thu October 11th, 2012 at 00:00