Citizen-Soldiers have been around in some form or another for
generations. Since the onset of the Civil War, everyday citizens
have put on a uniform to defend their homeland and though their
names, uniforms and missions have changed over the years, one thing
has remained the same – their passion for their country.
today's evolving environment, Army Reserve Soldiers must take that
fervor and combine it with complex and diverse training. Traditional
skills of shooting, moving, and communicating are still important,
but today's Citizen-Soldiers must also know their history, and how
it applies to their futures, said Maj. Gen. Mark McQueen, commander
of the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training), as a group
of Soldiers gathered at the Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve in
Cayce, South Carolina on March 24, 2016.
“History really helps us understand that dimension of
leadership,” he said.
Testing and building on leadership was
exactly why the Soldiers stood at the historical site. For four days
preceding their tour to Conagree Creek, Soldiers of the 108th had
been competing in a combined Best Warrior and Drill Sergeant of the
Year competition at Fort Jackson: a competition that included
everything from weapons qualification to essay writing to a 12-mile
ruck march. Their final task was the historical tour and a lesson on
how battles of the past apply to today's Army.
Adding applied history as an element to the competitions helps
our future leaders learn from the past, said Allen Skinner, Command
Historian, 81st Regional Support Command. “These are already the
best and the brightest who will turn into our future sergeant majors
and command sergeant majors. It's our job to develop them.
Ruth Branham, a volunteer with the River Alliance Organization, sets
the scene of the historical battle of this particular location at
Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve in Cayce, S.C. to Army Reserve
Soldiers from the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training) on
March 24, 2016. The educational tour was part of the 108th's
combined Best Warrior and Drill Sergeant of the Year competitions at
Fort Jackson, S.C. March 20-25, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato)
As the Soldiers walked through the site, volunteers from
the River Alliance Organization, most whom were veterans
themselves, explained the historic battle's tactical
details. They pointed out topographical challenges, passed
around civil-war ammunition shells discovered in the area,
and held up displays of weapons from that time period.
The combination of visuals and discussion helped paint a
picture of how we have advanced as a society; leading to a
better understanding and appreciation of technology, said Spc.
Antony Palmer, the Soldier-level winner of the Best Warrior
Competition for the 98th Training Division (IET). “Learning how
things were done in the past, makes me appreciate our progress and
Building each generation is exactly why
history, and tours like this are so important, according to Skinner.
“We are here to develop you as leaders,” he told the troops as they
discussed the battle scene and historical documents.
vast differences between the Civil War Soldier's tools and
disciplines to today's Army Reserve Soldier's, was explained even
further when the Soldiers met with Joe Long, curator of education,
at the South Carolina Relic Room and Military Museum. Through Long's
researched stories, he showed the Soldiers why leadership matters
even more today with all our advanced gadgetry. “Leadership
principles don't change. If we are not careful, all the new
technology will just allow us to make the same mistakes faster.”
Getting the tour from fellow veterans made it more interesting,
said Sgt. 1st Class Ethan Feldner, Best Warrior competitor from the
95th Training Division (IET). “I really liked all the graphic aids
and how they applied to our jobs as Soldiers today.”
Breaking down the facts of the battle to Soldiers was an enjoyable
assignment, said Douglas Patterson, senior volunteer and Army
veteran who served time in both the active and Reserve Army.
Douglas Patterson, head volunteer and Army veteran who served time
in both the active and Reserve Army, gives Army Reserve Soldiers
from the 108th Training Command (IET) a tour of Congaree Creek
Heritage Preserve in Cayce, S.C. on March 24, 2016. The historical
tour about the Battle of Congaree Creek was part of the 108th
Training Command (IET) combined Best Warrior and Drill Sergeant of
the Year competitions at Fort Jackson, S.C. March 20-25, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato)
“The military side of me likes to see Soldiers. I can
relate to them and they can relate to me,” he said.
Teaching them history was not just for fun though.
Patterson, a passionate history buff, says that knowing
where we came from is critical for our future generations to
avoid the same mistakes. “If we don't learn from our past,
that old adage, history repeats itself, can be very true.”
Elise Partin, City of Cayce mayor, agreed.
Taking time out of her busy schedule, Partin was there to greet
the Soldiers at the start of their tour. “Our Soldiers give so much
to us, there are not enough ways to give back, so it's important to
do so every opportunity we can.”
Her appreciation for
Soldiers, particularly drill sergeants, comes from family and
“My father and father-in law both did their basic
training at Fort Jackson, so I'm thankful for all those who helped
to make them the great men they are,” she said.
tell us so much, even what mistakes we don't want to make again. If
we understand our history well, for what it is and what it isn't, it
can help us to have an even better future,” she added.
Molding future generations is a responsibility for all leaders, said
McQueen to the Mayor and other volunteers.
in our Soldiers means a lot,” he told the volunteers as the group
By U.S. Army Maj. Michelle Lunato
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