BLOG: Final letter from Luke Wark at Basic Training

Jason Werling
Jul 16, 2010



Sandusky Register photographer Luke Wark joined the Army National Guard earlier this year and as of Thursday, just graduated from basic combat training. Here is the letter he wrote last week...

July 7, 2010

Well, we all survived our final field training exercise and ruck march. Now all we have to do is survive the next week of cleaning and sitting around then we're outta here!
With just over a week to go until graduation things have begun to move at an agonizingly slow pace compared to the past eight. Before, our days were filled with training, training and more training. Now that all of our required training is done it has become a long week of cleaning gear, cleaning weapons and then recleaning everything again just because there isn't really anything else to do.
Everyone is looking forward to graduation day and family day before that. There is a lot of talk about what people will be doing on those days. Many will be hanging out with their significant others that they haven't seen in months, others will be going out to eat some place other than the Company dining facility, some even have plans of getting married on family day. Me, I'll be hanging out with the family and girlfriend and doing lots and lots of swimming at the hotel pool they are staying at. That and eating all the deliciously bad food I've been craving the past few weeks. Naa, I'll probably not be THAT bad.
After a quick graduation ceremony everyone will be going their separate ways as they head off to learn their respective military jobs. It is hard to believe that the end of basic combat training is almost over. There is a part of me that will miss this place, but there is an even bigger part of me that is looking forward to moving on to something new. I'm really looking forward to eventually getting back to Sandusky and getting back to taking photos around town.
One of the biggest things this whole experience has taught me is a new appreciation for those things we all take for granted. Even little things like a milkshake have a new, more special meaning these days. After going through all of this I believe that every able-bodied person should serve, just to learn what it means to have the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
I'm not sure what else to write at the moment. We are currently preparing for our Class A and Class B uniforms for inspection prior to family day in a few days.
After basic training graduation I'll head off to my military job training in Virginia. I'm sure I will be writing more letters and hopefully be including a few pictures here and there.
Until then I hope everyone is doing well in Sandusky. Thanks to all of you who have been reading these letters and especially thank you to those of you who took the time to write me while I have been away. It means a lot to know that there are folks in our town who are willing to take the time to write to those they don't even know. If it means this much to me I'm sure that it means even more to those serving overseas. I'd encourage everyone to support those troops, even if you don't support the reason they are over there. They are regular, everyday people just like myself who are doing their job, supporting their families and trying to do the best they can.
Well, it's time for me to wrap these ramblings up. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the summer for me!

-Luke W.

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.



I'd like to say Thank You to Luke Wark for sharing his experiences during his military basic training.    He will probably still have the "What was I thinking when I signed up for this?" question pop into his head now and again but when he looks back on the experience his appreciation for "freedom" will continue to grow.

I served during and after the Vietnam war and can appreciate his comments about receiving notes and letters from people I've never met.  The weekly Peninsular News, when owned by the Merckens, would list the names and addresses of local military members to allow for correspondence.

The addresses at Christmas have been very well received and I have received a card or note back, each year,  from some of the people that have received my Holiday greetings.  Each one has expressed their thanks to a stranger for taking the time to wish them well and for remembering them.

In the past, I have sent emails to Mr. Westerhold requesting that the Register at least once a week, print the addresses of local people now serving.  Along with individuals, teachers can use the addresses to help their classes learn about correspondence, customs in other cultures, and geography.  Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members, serving in foreign lands and even other parts of our country, can share much in information and photographs about the local culture they are experiencing. 

I have read many stories of classes partnering with a school in places such as Pakistan or African countires to help provide many of the supplies that our students take for granted.  Something as simple as a pencil is a treasure to students whose parents must pay to allow them to attend school.

How about it Matt, newspapers in education is more then a local classroom endeavor.