FT. BENNING, GEORGIA
Sandusky Register staff photographer Luke Wark joined the Army National Guard earlier this year and has been sending letters for me to share with all of our readers.
I spoke to him on Saturday during their Fourth of July festivities. His unit was able to make five-minute phone calls and he sounded good and ready for the next challenge of his specialized training.
Here's the most recent letter from Luke at Ft. Benning, GA, sent on June 26...
I think people here in my platoon are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel here in basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Today we had our final Army Physical Fitness test and then packed for our last field training exercise which begins on Monday. Spirits around here are pretty high for the most part, especially as we are going to get fitted for our Class A uniforms tomorrow.
Even though talk is light and guys are beginning to talk about graduation and family day, we aren't out of the woods yet. For our final week-long field training we will be out in the woods doing "missions" and employing all of the skills we have been learning over the past few weeks. The culmination of the entire event is a 10-mile road march which will be hard for some and even harder for others. I think the motivation for many is the knowledge that once it is completed we will be getting back just in time for the 4th of July and a big carnival celebration here on base. I know I'm looking forward to a burger and corndog or something along those lines!
Its hard to believe that my basic training experience is almost over. I've heard horror stories for years of Army Basic Combat Training, but I must confess that it hasn't really been all that terrible. Sure the smokings from the Drill Sergeants sucked at the time and will continue to suck until the day I leave this place, but the good, fun times definitely made up for the bad. Learning military tactics, albeit basic ones, were very fun, not to mention shooting our assault rifles, the machine guns (.50 cal in particular), hand grenades and grenade launchers. I've made some friends for life and done things that not many people have or will ever have the chance to do.
I suppose that I shouldn't count my chickens before they are hatched thought as I've still technically got a week of training to go yet. All in all though this has been and continues to be a very cool experience that I wouldn't trade for the world. Well, time for chow. More to come soon.
And here's some past letters in case you missed them...
Arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia last Tuesday night and pretty much immediately started getting yelled at by about six drill sergeants. That was my hello to my career in the United States Army.
It is Saturday evening now and I write this as my fellow soon-to-be soldiers and I eagerly await to start our Basic Combat Training on Tuesday even after being down in a push-up ready position by our drill sergeant for ten minutes. So far it has been very slow and very boring as we have been going through what is known as Reception Week. This week basically consists of us getting up around 4 a.m., sitting around as we all wait to be issued uniforms, eating, sitting around some more, getting all sorts of physicals done (I won't discuss all the shots we got or where), and did I mention all the waiting?
In all honesty we know that this is the calm before the storm which begins once we head to actual basic training. The funny thing is there have already been two people from our platoon that have run off and gone AWOL. I'm not sure how you can make it this far and no realize Army life might not be for you. Maybe they watched "Stripes" and "In the Army now" a few too many times, I guess. Anyhow, everyone else here is stoked to get going and it's very cool talking to others from across the country and just having one goal in common. All walks of life and all different races and religions make for some interesting conversations to put it nicely.
Well, time for me to head out, gotta shower and get ready for tomorrow. There is a lot of waiting around to be done and our wake up call of 4 a.m. comes real early. Not sure when I will be able to write again, but there will be more to come.
I have found out that there is something oddly satisfying about watching a pool of sweat form on the pavement as it rolls off my forehead while propped up in a push-up -ready position.
We started basic training a week ago this past Tuesday and push-ups seem to be the punishment of choice for the Drill Sergeants here at Fort Benning, Georgia. They do their jobs well, punishing us with a wide variety of physical activities as well as voices so loud that it could scar an elephant away. I can only imagine that they must eventually lose their voices after years of yelling at fresh Army inductees. On the flip side of all the yelling though, they are excellent teachers. They are very knowledgeable in what they are teaching and are willing to take the time to properly teach people what they know. All of our Drill Sergeants here have actual combat experience and can give real-world examples of how the subjects they teach apply.
The platoon I am in is slowly starting to learn the military way. But it seems like whenever we really start to get decent, we also get complacent and end up getting lazy and slipping up. Oh well, I guess it will be a continual work in progress.
All in all, basic training isn't nearly as bad as I've heard about. There are the tough moments for sure, but we have been doing some pretty neat stuff so far. Yesterday we did a team building problem solving course and today we did a company-wide obstacle course against the other platoons. It was extremely muddy and extremely fun. Tomorrow we are off to a confidence obstacle course and I have heard next week we may be doing the gas chamber and heading to the rifle range...it all sounds like fun to me.
Well, lights out is in a half hour and I'm going to see if I got any mail. Will write again soon whenever I can.
Spc. Wark, Lucas RN446
A Co. 1-378th IN
5375 Hanson Dr.
Ft. Benning, GA 31905-4930
May 29, 2010
If you have never experienced a Georgia tornado they are something to behold. One tore through our platoon barracks earlier this week. Somehow, even though it was a beautiful, clear day outside, this tornado managed to destroy our barracks. When we got back from the road march we were on we found people's beds flipped over and boots strewn around the room and clothes everywhere. This one only destroyed some people's bunks and not others, not unlike how a regular tornado will decimate one trailer home, but not the one right next to it. Nobody has ever witnessed one of these mysterious forces of nature as they only strike when everyone is out on a march or something like that. Crazy.
We went to the gas chamber on Monday. Aside from the burning face and eyes and the violent coughing fits, I would say it is a great way to clear out your sinuses. They filed us into the room, filled it with CS gas and made us unseal our mask, recite our name and social security number then reseal our mask. The whole point was to demonstrate that the masks work. There was nothing at all to be scared of, but it was hilarious (at least to me) watching people freak out.
That was about the most exciting thing we have done all week at least in my opinion. Yesterday I got to spend my birthday doing a 3-mile road march and wandering around the woods with a compass and an MRE. Happy birthday to me! Well, we are headed to chow now, more to come.
Luke's previous letter from June can be found by clicking HERE