When you think of a Soldier that volunteers for the 10th Mountain Division Warfare Course, you wouldn't think of someone that was born and raised on a tropical island.
For Spc. Adrian Thomas, a native of St. Ann, Jamaica, this type of training, is not a familiar occurrence.
"The coldest it ever gets in Jamaica is 60 degrees, so I knew that it would be an adjustment, but I was excited to come to Fort Drum and face new challenges," said Thomas.
Before enlisting in the United States Army, Thomas worked as a patrol officer and crime scene investigator in Jamaica before deciding to move to the United States with his wife.
"When I came to America, I initially wanted to be a Military Police officer (MP) in the Army, but I couldn't get a clearance because I wasn't a U.S. citizen yet," added Thomas.
Thomas enlisted into the U.S. Army National Guard in 2016 as a (68W) Combat Medic Specialist and later made the transition to active duty in July of 2018.
"Even though I wasn't able to join as an MP, I have fallen in love with the medical field and my job as a combat medic," said Thomas.
As a medic, Thomas usually works with assessing and treating patients at a Troop Medical Clinic or an Aid Station in the field but can also be tasked to cover many types of training events.
"I was scheduled to be the medic on the scene for the Mountain Warfare Course from Oct. 17 - Nov. 1, 2019," said Thomas. But when I got there, I realized that it looked like something that interested me so I asked if I could be a part of the course and they said yes. They handed me a computer to sign up for the training, and I started that day."
The Mountain Warfare Course on Fort Drum, New York, introduces Soldiers to the tactical challenges of operating in mountainous environments and equips them with the knowledge and skills to operate in this environment year-round. Soldiers who attend this course learn the history of mountain warfare, proper knot tying techniques, and rappelling and climbing procedures in frigid mountainous terrain over a two-week period.
"To have these skills is super important to being a 10th Mountain Soldier," said Thomas. To me, learning how to lower a casualty down a cliff is a very beneficial skill as a combat medic in the Army.
Some portions of the training can prove more challenging than others.
"At one point during the training, I slipped after my rope got twisted, and I fell all the way to the bottom, but I wasn't hurt, so I got back up," said Thomas. "It shows me that even though there are obstacles in life, you can brush yourself off and climb to the top."
Thomas completed Mountain Warfare Course as the only U.S. Army junior enlisted Soldier as the class was entirely senior ranking Marines.
"There were only Marines in the class, but it was good because I wanted to show them that the Army could complete the training as well," said Thomas.