Approximately 250 seventh-graders from Blackmon Road Middle School visited Fort Benning’s 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion Tuesday to learn what it’s like to be a soldier for a day.
The morning began on Kelley Hill’s Essenbagger Field with a swearing in ceremony in which the 3rd BSTB’s commander, Lt. Col. Todd Zollinger, made each student an honorary soldier for the day.
“The 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion is partnered with Blackmon Road Middle School in the Partners in Education program,” Zollinger said. “So this is really our first opportunity since coming back from the last deployment that we’ve had an opportunity to get the kids out and do an event.”
Following the swearing in ceremony, soldiers ran the giddy teens through several PT (physical training) exercises. The workout consisted of pushups, squats, jumping jacks and sprints and was much like the routine all 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team soldiers do each morning.
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Thirteen-year-old Jelani McGlan said his favorite part of the morning was the running. McGlan’s classmate, Arielle Marnito, said running relay sprints on the damp grass of Essenbagger Field made for some funny moments.
“It was fun because towards the end you would have to stop and touch the ground, but we would kind of slip and fall,” Marnito, 13, said. “You’d have to get back up and start running again.”
Following lunch — MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) were not on the menu — the students were given the opportunity to see, touch and learn about the various equipment and vehicles soldiers use during training and combat operations. On display were a Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, an Armored Security Vehicle, night vision devices and various weapons systems. The children were also shown basic combat medical triage techniques.
“I think it’s pretty neat because I’ve be never seen any of these planes or anything,” Marnito said. “So I think it’s fun and interesting to look at.”