By Mr. Mark Manicone (Fort Jackson)August 23, 2017
Get off my bus!"
It is a phrase Soldiers in Training know all too well after they arrive at the 120th Adjutant General Battalion and welcomed enthusiastically to Fort Jackson. Except this time instead of frightened SITs storming off the white buses, it was some 40 shell-shocked civilians.
They were a part of Fort Jackson's "Come Meet Your Army" tour community outreach program, which aims to give civilians, and some veterans, a taste of what Fort Jackson does for the Army and the surrounding community.
"It's definitely interesting," said Zachary Cunningham, a 16-year-old considering joining the military. "I get to learn a lot of general things about the Army."
But these civilians and veterans weren't expecting quite the reception that the drill sergeants enthusiastically gave them. After failing to depart the bus in allotted 20 seconds, these tourists found themselves put in the front leaning rest position and "pushing down the fort."
After the proper Army welcome had been given, the tour moved into the battalion's Carolina Room where Col. Mark Shade, Fort Jackson deputy commander, gave them a briefing on the history and mission of Fort Jackson.
"Our mission here is to take civilians and make them into Soldiers," Shade said. "We break you back down, so we can build you back up."
Shade also provided details on how they train the soldiers and the change in training methods compared to years past. The briefing also covered entry salaries for those who join, and figures on how much the Army spends on each soldier for the duration of BCT.
"What got me was just the amount of things they have to go through," said Joseph Piermarini who was on the tour with his grandfather. "The amount of small details they pay attention to, shows the amount of care they put into each Soldier."
At the conclusion of the briefing, the tour moved to watch the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment graduation. The battalion had all six companies graduate this cycle, and the tour got the full experience of seeing the end results of basic training.
Then they got to see the intermediate phase.
The group transitioned over to the confidence course, where they got to see drill sergeants in action molding SiTs in to the proud Soldiers they just saw at graduation.
"It gives them a little flavor of the heat, and our training," said Sgt. 1st Class Cruz Rodriguez a drill sergeant with 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. "You got to have a little patriotism to see how we build our soldiers."
After seeing some "motivational" speaking of the drill sergeants to the privates, the tour's next phase was at the Basic Combat Training museum. Here guests got to see the evolution of the Army's basic combat training routines and lifestyle over the years, and how Fort Jackson has adapted to those changing times and mission standards.
"Putting a drill sergeant from BCT in charge helps people see how BCT is," Rodriguez said. "It helps to build that community repertoire, that community relationship, with Fort Jackson."