By Mr. Robert Timmons (IMCOM)January 23, 2018
For most of the year, training at Fort Jackson goes unseen by the community surrounding the installation except for a few times a year when the post opens its gates and gives a glimpse of what Basic Combat Training entails.
Tuesday was one such occasion as the post held a Come Meet Your Army Tour to provide individuals from the surrounding community an opportunity to see how Soldiers train at the Army's largest and busiest training center.
Community members from across the Midlands gathered at the Joe E. Mann Center on Fort Jackson to hear a quick briefing and try on military equipment before being bused to the Night Infiltration Course to watch trainees from 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment slither across roughly 100 yards of open ground under real gunfire and flares.
"When I saw we could participate I thought it was a really good opportunity for me to understand real time, in person what these Soldiers go through," said Haidee Stith, who works at the South Carolina Military Base Task Force, an organization that aims to help military installations across the state. "I've been to graduations and heard people give presentations about training, but to be there and see what Soldiers have to do will help me better appreciate what they do."
Charles Stith, who accompanied Haidee, has lived near Fort Jackson all his life yet never witnessed training before.
"I grew up (not far from Fort Jackson) as a kid and heard people and drills all my life but I've never been out here and witnessed anything like this before," he said.
While Charles might have been new to Army training, Jasmine Cox has seen it and lived it before.
Cox went through the NIC "back in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 2015," she said. "I go to experience it and wanted to see if it was as scary watching it from the outside while people navigate the course."
The attendees were given a short briefing by Col. Joseph McLamb, Fort Jackson and Army Training Center deputy commanding officer, before Lt. Col. Alex Duran, 2-39 commander spoke to them more in depth about what to expect.
When asked what the trainees would be wearing through the course, Duran said, "They will be wearing the helmets I showed you, body armor with plates and their weapons."
Trainees would start in a trench and begin crawling across open ground, under barbwire obstacles all while being fired at by live ammunition from machine guns sturdily mounted in towers high above.
The expectations of attendees was high.
'I think there will be a lot of firing … not like in the movies, but I think it will give me a better appreciation of what Soldiers do out in the field more than what you see on TV and in the movies," Haidee said.