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Pre-basic training provides recruits taste of Army life

POSTED: March 10, 2013 12:31 a.m.
Charles Phelps/The Times

Several Army recruits from Gainesville were among those taking part in pre-basic training Saturday at the U.S. Army Reserve station off Winterville Road in Athens.

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ATHENS — U.S. Army recruits got a glimpse Saturday into what their military lives will be like during a pre-basic and physical training at the U.S. Army Reserve station off Winterville Road in Athens.

“This is huge — probably the biggest help,” Drill Sgt. Kevin Elrod said of the training. “This is putting the (new recruits) in front of real drill sergeants. ... Some are scared to go to basic training. Now, they say ‘I know what to expect.’ Everything they’ve done today, they’ll do in basic training.”

Elrod also said the pre-training serves to motivate recruits who gain confidence from seeing how things will work.
“All the recruits that have gone through (pre-training) have never dropped out,” Elrod said.

The recruits learned attention positions, how to march, the soldier’s creed and more as part of a busy day that began at 8 a.m. and ran until 4 p.m. The only thing louder than the drill sergeants were the cadences recruits chanted as they marched, or their responses of “Yes, drill sergeant.”

“Our goal here is to continue to motivate and prepare them for success,” said Capt. Daniel R. Hudalla, Commander of the Athens Recruiting Company. “I think they’ll walk away today excited and prepared for basic training, and say ‘Hey, I can do this.’”

Pfc. Jordan Manotas, a recruit who graduated from basic training Oct. 17, didn’t have the opportunity to go through the pre-training prior to his basic training, but he was on hand to see the recruits go through it. He said the training would help them a lot.

“It (basic training) is a totally different experience,” he said. “I thought it was going to be like (the film) ‘Full Metal Jacket.’ And this, you get to see what it’s going to be like, but this is a really toned-down version of what it will be like for them.”

Among the recruits was West Hall High School senior Johbani Reyes, 18, who leaves for basic training June 13 after he graduates. He said the Army offers him a chance to have a career and provide job opportunities.

“I wanted to pursue a career ... the discipline, the training, all the job opportunities the Army provides,” he said.
Reyes’ job, and passion, is working on cars. He said he and his dad spent time working on them together as he was growing up. Because of that experience, Reyes’ work in the Army will be as a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic.

Cody Williamson of Gainesville said the military runs in his family and he wants to carry on his family’s tradition.

“My dad was in the Navy,” said Williamson. “I wanted to carry on the legacy. I feel like it’s the best way to maintain a good lifestyle. I think it’s a good way to make a living.”

Jackson County High School graduate Robert Wega echoed Williamson’s sentiments, saying he wanted to join the Army since he was a child.

“I’ve wanted to (join) since I was knee-high to a grasshopper,” he said. “My grandfather and many other family members were in the military. Plus, I’m a good shot and mechanic, and figured ‘Go to the Army.’”
Wega also said he’s going to be a mechanic.


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