FORT BENNING, Ga. — Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Regiment’s 1st and 2nd battalions unleashed another display of firepower Oct. 21.
Fort Benning’s latest hands-on training exercise, or HOTEX, attracted a few hundred people to Red Cloud Range, where they watched Bradley fighting vehicles and Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles conduct maneuvers and shoot off a hail of cannon fire and bullets on targets downrange. The event included Infantry squad and mortar live-fire demonstrations.
After the Army exhibition, civilians were allowed to enter the Bradleys and test-fire the weapons systems. They also went into the live-fire pit to shoot machine guns, rifles and small arms.
This marked the third HOTEX for SPC Julio Romero of 2nd Battalion, who works on the Malone 4 and 5 machine-gun ranges at Sand Hill. He helps teach basic trainees — about 300 in a typical session — how to use the M240 B and M249 automatic weapons.
“It’s a little more interesting with the civilians and families,” he said. “We get to train them on how to maneuver the weapons systems; we’re getting ‘em positioned on the targets. This is more of a one-on-one opportunity than our everyday jobs.
“It’s not as stressful. We don’t have to yell at them like we do the basic training guys.”
SGT Sean Francis, another 2nd Battalion Soldier, said the HOTEX makes family members feel like part of the team.
“They get a chance to go to a range and do what mom and dad do when they go to work,” he said.
Ms. Tabetha Russell, a Columbus State University senior, said her father serves in the National Guard and she’s attended family day events before — but the Red Cloud Range experience was more vivid.
“This was loud,” she said moments after firing an M240 B machine gun. “It was fun, though.”
Ms. Ana Hidalgo said the HOTEX delivers a different aspect of Soldier life. Her husband, SPC Adan Hidalgo, is assigned to 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment.
“It’s a more realistic perspective on what they do,” she said. “You kinda feel the reality of what they do when they deploy. I love coming out here. I try to get out for every one of these.”