Split Training Creates Student Soldiers


FORT SILL, Okla.-- Nearly 500 teenagers traded in their lazy summer for pushups, long runs and a heat that seemed to only keep pace with the drill sergeants' demands. They came to learn the basics of being a Soldier.

"My grandfather was in the Army, my brother is in the Army. I just wanted to do it because it helps me with school and I wanted the experience. I wanted to do something important, something bigger than myself," said Pvt. Katrina Goins, A Battery, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery.

Goins was one of the many who took advantage of the split training option. The option allows students to go through Basic Combat Training during the summer between their junior and senior years of high school. In A/1-79th alone, there were 65 of these young Soldiers.

"The last few weeks were kind of tough. The first week was hell, but as soon as a few weeks passed by it got easier and you get used to it," said Pvt. Allen Lucas, A/1-79th FA.

"It's been hard but there's some people that make it so much worse than it actually is. You just get through it," said Goins.

Not yet legal adults, the two have struggled alongside their older counterparts as they endured long foot marches, learned how to properly throw a hand grenade and survived the gas chamber.

"My friends were saying you might not make it, but I'm just proving them wrong," said Lucas.

"I had some friends who were really surprised; no one would've guessed that I would have joined the Army at all and they were like, 'really you're going to basic training?' Some people were like 'that's so cool' and some people were like 'oh my gosh' that's going to be so hard, are you sure?'" said Goins.

Both said the toughest part of basic so far was the ability group runs. Both were placed in the Ability A group which means they kept a quick pace. As far as their favorite part of basic training Lucas said he enjoyed learning what he will use in a deployed environment.

"Carrying our weapons around just shooting and basically covering our battle buddies. It felt like real combat," said Lucas.

"My favorite parts have been the obstacle courses, the team building courses and all that stuff because they're really physical and you just get to hang out with your platoon," said Goins.

Even with the early morning runs and late evenings they said they didn't feel they missed out on their normal summer experience.

Lucas said if he were not in training here, he would be playing the video game Modern Warfare 3. Goins said the fast paced learning environment was a nice break from the boredom she usually has in her home town.

"I usually just go swimming up the river. It gets old. Just getting to do a variety of different things I've never done before, this is a good experience. If I was back home I'd either be swimming or sitting on my butt," said Goins.

Both Soldiers are from cooler climates and they said while they acclimated to the stressful conditions in training, the heat was something that they never quite adjusted to.

"It's miserable really sweaty. [You] shower like twice a day. Once you start moving you start sweating," said Lucas.

"You don't have to move and you start sweating," added Goins with a grin.

Both will go to their respective Advanced Individual Training units after graduating high school with high goals. Lucas already has thoughts of going airborne, and Goins wants a job where she is able to help others and get a college education.

As far as returning to their senior year of high school, both said it will be no sweat especially compared to the sweat poured here at Sill.

"I would say I matured. I was given a lot of responsibly and I kind of got used to it so it made me a more mature person," said Lucas.

"Just learning how to work with others here is going to help me my senior year. I have some pretty tough classes where you really need to work with the whole school so being in a platoon and having to help out with everything is certainly going to help," said Goins.

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