Fort Jackson opened its gates to the public on May 19 to observe Basic Combat Training
Soldiers execute the Night Infiltration Course.
The NIC is required training for graduation.
It introduces Soldiers in training to the sight and sounds of the battlefield during limited visibility.
The event began at the Joe E. Mann Center with a total of 36 veterans and local citizens
getting an opportunity to try on combat equipment.
"It brings back memories," said retired Sgt. 1st Class Hector Garcia as he proudly photographed
his son Elijah Garcia completely dressed in the combat gear that was provided.
Katie Kennedy, who came with her coworkers said, "We came to learn about what Soldiers go through in basic training."
The group received a Fort Jackson mission briefing by Lt. Col. Jim Allen, the post's operations
officer that was followed with a synopsis of NIC by Lt. Col. Brian Hunter, commander, 1st Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment.
Hunter informed the group they would observe Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 13th Infantry
Regiment, which is in its fifth week of training.
"The Soldiers are being taught how to move under direct fire," he said. "They must know
how to shoot and communicate to survive."
When Hunter was asked if the Soldiers knew they were having live rounds shot over their heads, he replied, "Yes, the Soldiers are aware and are instructed not to stand, to keep their heads on the ground and low crawl until given instructions to get up." He also ensured the group that safety measures are in place to prevent injury.
After boarding a military bus, the group was transported to the NIC where Hunter escorted
the group to the start trench where the BCT Soldiers would begin their 100 meter movement
while under direct fire.
"The BCT Soldiers must complete the course within 30 minutes to meet graduation requirement,
yet it typically takes a Soldier 18 minutes to complete the course." said Capt. Kevin McMahon,
Alpha Company commander. Soldiers must demonstrate proper techniques to move under direct fire; move over or around obstacles; react to indirect fire; and react to flares.
The NIC can be an extremely frightening training event.
"This is my favorite event because I get to go through with every unit in the battalion," said Chaplain (Capt.) Brent M. Culpen.
The only chaplain in the battalion, Culpen said he's there "to support those who are afraid."
As darkness approached and after the unit and safety personnel were staged according
to range and stand operating procedures the M240B Machine Gun began firing overhead.
The guests observed Soldiers negotiating the course through night vision goggles that were
provided by the range cadre. All the Soldiers successfully demonstrated their learned skills
and completed the Night Infiltration Course.
The event concluded with the group talking with BCT Soldiers. When questioned if they were afraid, one Soldier's response was "Yes! I felt a round nearly touch my shoulder."