FORT SILL, Okla. (June 23, 2022) —Up and coming leaders from across Oklahoma spent June 17 and 18 on Fort Sill learning what it takes to be a Soldier in today’s Army.
“When you get done here today, you’ll understand how incredibly special our young men and women are that serve our country,” said Mike Brown, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, Oklahoma South. “There are many people who have a propensity to serve and our job as community leaders is to go back and tell them about our Army, the best leadership program in the face of the earth.”
Over a dozen members of Leadership Oklahoma attended the two-day event, hosted by the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill. The event is designed to build relationships with leaders who positively shape Oklahoma’s future and introduce them to the positive impacts of Fort Sill on the community, said Dr. Alvin Peterson Jr., Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill deputy chief of staff.
“It’s wonderful to hear why the young Soldiers joined the Army,” said Rachael Melot, chief executive officer of Shawnee Forward. “It was inspiring to see their desire to serve and their hopes for our country and themselves.”
Over the course of the adventure, members attended a change of command ceremony, received briefings from post leadership, met with basic trainees, fired simulated weapons, visited the museum and more. However, the highlight of the tour was when the group assumed the role of basic trainees to step up to the challenge of rappelling down Treadwell Tower.
“I’m not really scared of heights but once you’re up there, you’re uneasy because you’ve never done it before, but it was a great experience for sure,” said Johnna Yoder, community engagement manager for the Society of Exploration. “I’ve never done anything like this before, so I just made sure to do exactly what the instructors told me to do.”
Before braving the 40-foot tower, members were briefed on the obstacle, were taught how to tie a Swiss seat and practiced repelling on a much smaller 10-foot wall. After a wave and a couple of bounds, the group completed the challenge and were ready for lunch with basic trainees.
Bailey Perkins, state advocacy and public policy director for Oklahoma Food Banks, described the tower challenge as confidence building and the entire trip as eye-opening. Perkins is a lifelong Lawton resident and said she rarely gets the chance to visit Fort Sill and see it from this perspective.
“It’s amazing what goes into the readiness of our military,” Perkins said. “It was eye-opening seeing firsthand how our Soldiers are trained using different life-saving techniques and how they’re trained to be not only physically fit but mentally fit to complete missions.”