By ANDREA WALES
U.S. Army Human Resources Command PAO
Eighth-graders from East Hardin Middle School in Glendale, Ky., visited Fort Knox Feb. 27, escorted by Soldiers from The Adjutant General Directorate’s Field Services Division under the U.S. Army Human Resources Command.
“We always visit their school and see all the things that they’re doing,” said Capt. Brandi Caver of TAGD FSD, referring to FSD’s school visits through HRC’s Partners in Education program. “We wanted them to see what the Army is all about.”
EHMS officials said they wanted the
students to become familiar with the Army because the school these students will attend next year, Central Hardin High School, has a vigorous Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, Caver said. The director of Central Hardin JROTC said it was a small program so only a select few will be accepted.
ROTC (for college students) is intended to develop leadership skills, said the director of TAGD FSD, Col. Thomas Seifert. JROTC (for high-school students) is intended to develop citizenship skills and to stress the importance of high-school graduation for a successful future.
Seifert said it was enjoyable to be in the role of mentor and helping tomorrow’s leaders make important decisions in their lives.
“I’m very disappointed with what our youth is faced with today,” said Capt. Tiffany Hines of TAGD FSD. “With our mentorship and just our presence, we are able to give them a positive and realistic outlook on their future and possible
Four buses took the children to Godman Army Airfield as well as a motor pool where the Soldiers dressed in “full battle rattle” and Patton Museum where students could roam the leadership museum. A windshield tour of the installation was also on the agenda.
Students climbed aboard AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters in historic Hangar No. 1, which is still in use by the 8th Battalion (Attack Reconnaissance), 229th Aviation Regiment, under the 11th Aviation Command, which is a Reserve Component command.
Ethan Cash, 14, summed up what seemed to be the consensus of the students regarding the experience.
“It’s tactical and cool. Period,” he said.
Another student got something else out of the hangar visit.
“It showed me how the pilots feel when they’re flying into combat trying to save somebody,” said Robert Starkey, 14. “You really don’t realize how big these helicopters are until you see them in person. It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing to see these up close.”
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Rackham, who gave the briefing about the helicopters, said he liked seeing the students’ bound-less enthusiasm and support, not only for the aircraft but for the military in general.
“Many of the students wanted to take a picture with me due only to the fact that they love the Army,” said Rackham, an active component Soldier who works for 8th Bn, 229th Aviation. “That love of the Army alone is one of the core foundations of my career. As a service member, I joined so that I can defend the rights and freedoms of those who cannot.”
One of the stops was the motor pool of the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, under the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division—the “Duke Brigade.” Here, the students climbed into high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, commonly known as “humvees,” and talked with Soldiers.
Spc. Jesse Clune, who was perched atop his humvee, said that children have a natural curiosity about Soldiers because of what they’ve seen in the media.
“We’re normal people,” said Clune, adding that these student visits are very helpful. “They get to see what Army life is actually like, not what they’re used to seeing on TV and in movies.”
Spencer Sissoko, 13, said the Fort Knox visit was a fun experience for her. She liked getting a better perspective of things by popping her head out of the hatch of the humvee.
“I’m glad I got to do this because not many kids get to go to military posts,” the eighth-grader said. “It felt really cool to be able to learn about the Army. I’m thankful that these people are protecting our country.”
The Soldiers who work with the PIE program get something out of volunteering.
“I get a sense of joy from mentoring our future leaders,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Vasquez of TAGD FSD.
Master Sgt. Andre Rodgers said he likes being involved because the students aren’t used to an Army presence. Rodgers also likes to interact with the students, including joking around.
The FSD Soldiers also have something extraordinary to offer the students they mentor.
“Kids need role models. They may or may not have good role models at home, and we’re their outside source,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joe Rainey of TAGD FSD. “We give them different points of view. A guardian may never have left the hometown. We can tell them about different cultures—ways of life in foreign countries—that you normally can’t get from Mom and Dad.”