By Sgt. Christine Rosa, 1st BCT Public Affairs, 1st Cav. Div.November 8, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas -- In college you are normally required to write an essay either introducing yourself to the class or explaining why you are taking the class that you signed up for. If you ask a Soldier if he's ever been required to do the same before attending driver's training, well, he most likely will say no.
But for a group of Soldiers assigned to 115th Brigade Support Battalion "Muleskinners," 1st Brigade "Ironhorse", they will tell you that it's a part of Sgt. 1st Class Suel's, teaching style, along with a little homework to bring home every night.
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Suel, 1st Brigade's master driver, lets us in on how he's been teaching his drivers training course, to brand new privates. But for Suel a Leesburg, Florida native and his students, it's a little more than driver's training.
"You have to keep the training interesting because once you lost their interest you lost a trainer," stated Suel.
Suel has been teaching Driver's training for about ten years and understands that every Soldier that he comes across does not learn the same way, and does not have the same obstacles to overcome, when it comes to driver's training.
"There are three ways that people learn; there is visual, hands-on and media. Once you cover all three of those, you can have them takes notes for retain ability. I also like to give them homework assignments, so I understand that they understand the training," stated Suel.
One of Suel's methods for keeping his students interested in the material is to add a little humor here and there along with military vehicle trivia questions. If the students guess at his trivia questions correctly, he adds on five minutes to their breaks.
"I think Sergeant Suel's teaching style is pretty cool, he's not boring, he gets into the details of the things that we are talking about, but it seems like when he bores himself he tries to make it fun, he always keeps you guessing and challenged so you don't fall asleep," stated Pvt. Chase Neil, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with 115 BSB.
"I like to share my experiences. You can stand up there and do death by PowerPoint, but you'll start to lose your audience because you are sitting there and looking at slides. Slides are like sleeping pills, and you have to do things like hands on training to keep the Soldiers involved in the training," said Suel.
One of my most memorable stories involved three brand new Privates and a Humvee. When I asked the Soldiers if they knew how to start the Humvee, one anxiously replied that he did. The Soldier jumped in the Humvee and looked for the ignition key, stated Suel, It was evident that Soldier had not been to drivers training yet, Suel said with laugh.
Any Soldier that has driven a Humvee will tell you that it does not have an ignition key to start it up; it starts with a knob.
"I like SGT Suels teaching style because he'll always go off on the most random stories that actually have something to do with the topic," stated Pvt. Scott Tester a Track Vehicle Repairer with 115 BSB. "He'll [Suel] tell you don't do it this way, this way will work, and that is how I learn," stated Tester, a Chatfield, Minnesota native.
Whether Soldiers attend Suel's drivers training course to drive cool vehicles or intend on using their experience when they transition back into civilian life, Suel's students get some laughs, some stories and learn a thing or two from Suel's "book of knowledge". They leave having learned a little more than just driver's training.