I never thought I would come across something in our state that would leave me as surprised as Fort Jackson has over the past month. After spending most of my life before college in South Carolina, I thought I had seen a pretty decent cross- section of this place we call home, and what I didn't see before college, I was sure I had covered when I came home on leave from the Army. I was wrong. What I never knew, until I reported to Fort Jackson for duty, was that this post is the U.S. Army's largest training location. It trains more than a third of the Army's soldiers every year.
West Point takes four years to complete, and it graduates only a quarter of the Army's officer corps every year. A basic combat training company at Fort Jackson puts out a new group of over 200 soldiers every nine to 10 weeks, and then starts over again with a whole new group. For so long Fort Jackson was just another exit on I-77, but now I understand how important this place is to the defense of our nation.
In the mornings one can hear the roar created by hundreds of voices calling cadence as physical training is conducted before the South Carolina sun makes its full appearance. Each one of those voices is coming from a soldier who has volunteered to protect this country. If that doesn't inspire you in some way, I don't know what will.
These individuals come from every corner of this nation, and from every walk of life. They are broken down and rebuilt in the image of a soldier. In the time of their training they learn many things: how to shoot, how to run, how to navigate terrain, how to throw a grenade, how to fight and, most importantly, how to be completely confident in their abilities. If I would have known that the big blob on the map of South Carolina in the northeast corner of Columbia was the location for this unique experience, I think I would have had a lot more pride in the fact that it was located in the Palmetto State.
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My job now is to focus on being the executive officer of my company, so that my group of soldiers gets the training they need to accomplish their mission.
On the weekends, I get to take a short break to visit with my fiancée, family and friends in the beautiful surroundings we've been blessed with. Come on down to Fort Jackson, I will give you a tour myself.