Nearly 50 future Soldiers from across central Missouri experience one of Fort Leonard Wood’s engagement skills trainers Saturday. The visit provided them an opportunity to see a military installation first-hand, learn more about some of the training they will receive and make connections with other future Soldiers.
Nearly 50 future Soldiers from across central Missouri experience one of Fort Leonard Wood’s engagement skills trainers Saturday. The visit provided them an opportunity to see a military installation first-hand, learn more about some of the training they will receive and make connections with other future Soldiers. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Daniel Difeo is anxious for his departure date to arrive. He is set to leave for Army Initial Entry Training from his hometown of Wentzville, Missouri, in July.

“I really want it to come,” he said.

Difeo, who will train to become an aircraft structural repairer after completing Basic Combat Training, is one of nearly 50 future Soldiers from across central Missouri, who spent Saturday on Fort Leonard Wood. The visit provided them an opportunity to learn more about some of the training they will receive, while also giving them the chance to possibly meet people they may be training alongside soon. Future Soldiers are Army applicants who have already sworn their oath of enlistment and are awaiting their IET start date.

The event, organized by the Mid-Missouri Recruiting Company, was also a way for these Soldiers-to-be to get a first-hand look at a military installation and some of the simulator facilities trainees utilize, said Capt. Taumaloto To'o, MMRC commander.

“They’re highly motivated, super focused, very empowered, super inspired — they’re just excited to ship out and make their country proud,” To'o said. “We wanted them to have fun and make some bonds — maybe they’ll meet someone who is shipping out the same day — make some connections while also getting some familiarization with aspects of the training they’ll be getting.”

The group visited an engagement skills trainer facility, where they practiced firing an M4 rifle simulator at targets on a large screen across the room. They were also able to experience simulated convoy missions at the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer — a virtual training facility with Humvees stationed in rooms and mock areas of operation projected in 360 degrees on the surrounding walls.

“It was exhilarating for them,” To’o said. “It’s so realistic — this is state-of-the-art technology that these future Soldiers were able to experience.”

Ackeem Dozovado is originally from Jamaica, and enlisted from Jefferson City, Missouri, to be a vehicle mechanic.

“It’s my thing,” he said. “I love engines. I like to use my hands. I like to be around anything that moves mechanically. So, in the Army, I’ll get to do what I like to do and learn more about it — do it at a professional level.”

Dozovado said he found the event to be a lot of fun, although he thought the simulated M4 could be a little more realistic.

“I know the real thing kicks way harder,” he joked.

Sitting next to Dozovado at the ESTs was Shaheed Sullivan, who also enlisted from Jefferson City, Missouri. They depart for IET the same day, though Sullivan has signed up to become an Infantry Specialist.

“I have family members who have been in the Army,” Sullivan said. “I’m just carrying on the tradition.”

Sullivan said this visit to Fort Leonard Wood was his first experience on a military installation.

“I like it — it’s like a city,” he said.

To’o, who oversees 38,000 square miles of recruiting territory across much of central Missouri, said he tries to organize events like this as often as he can, including what he called “mega future Soldier events,” where, once per quarter, all of the stations in his command bring their future Soldiers to a military installation — often Fort Leonard Wood — for similar, but larger, events. The next event is scheduled for the end of May, and will include participation from multiple recruiting companies.

“The focus at the event in May will be on combat engineer and convoy operations,” To’o said.