Becoming a recruit


connor tomlinson

urbandale recruiting station

Connor Tomlinson, Staff Writer

My heart was racing, I was nervous and was not sure what to expect as I approached the recruiting station. When I had talked to a recruiter at the state fair he had given me his business card with the recruiting station address on it. He told me workouts were on Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m. but to get there about 10 minutes early. Other than talking with him about joining I had never done anything pertaining to the military and as I approached the station I was expecting complete formality and was very nervous I would do something wrong. I got out of my dads car and went up to the door and rang the bell, it rang for a couple seconds before there was a distinct click sound and the door was unlocked. I went inside and the first room was short hallway with two signs on the each wall next to a door. Front to back the signs read “Air Force” “Marine Corps”  “Navy” and “Army” I made my way over to the Army office and the door was open, as I walked in there were a few recruiters at their desks and a group of recruits hanging out and talking. Seeing the other recruits there all casually hanging out I immediately relaxed a bit as one of them introduced them self to me.

When I had talked to the recruiter at the fair he had told me we would be working out, so thats what I expected and was dressed in a tank top and shorts, but everyone else there was in a t-shirt and/or jeans so I felt a bit underdressed. Once 5:00 hit I was still excepting a workout but a recruiter got up from his desk and stood by a tv at the front of the room and told us to take a seat by the tv if we hadn’t already. The recruiter pulled out a very large map and unfolded it after he pulled up a slideshow on the tv. He taught us about land navigation and what parts of a map means, including saddles, depressions, hills, and contour lines to name a few. The evening was much more relaxed than I was anticipating and I wasn’t disappointed that I came, when we finished I asked the recruiter if we would be working out and he told me we would, it just depends on the week if we workout or do a class.

When I went the next week it was similar to the week before, the recruiter was teaching us more about land navigation but we were outside behind the recruiting station and the recruiter used the hills and trees to relate to the map he had for an example. During the class days it was required that we had something to write with and we took notes as he talked about land nav. However the third week I went, to was a different recruiter, Sgt. Bruckbauer, who guiding us that day and the first day he started was the first day we did a workout, the workout got my blood pumping but was nothing too difficult. From then on, Sgt. Bruckbauer was guiding our training and we had a lot of workout days, and also drill days. During drill days we practiced drill & ceremony which is how to stand and walk in formation in a military manner.

These were very typical training days during Wednesdays, but once every three months, two or three recruiters would take all the recruits to a military base such as Camp Dodge or Fort Des Moines for a larger training session with people from other recruiting stations from around Iowa. These extended training sessions would last about four to five hours and usually include some kind of competition between the recruiting stations to see which recruits were smarter and stronger. We would do things like pushups, sit ups, and a run, all within a certain time and also a written test on Army knowledge. Which ever recruiting station did the best would win a large homemade trophy, and during my time there our recruiting station has always won the trophy and their winning streak started long before I started going there. We did not always have a competition however during the extended training session. Sometimes it was just a learning experience, we would talk with a lot of soldiers on base and they would tell us about their jobs and experience in the military. We would also learn about weapons and vehicles the Army commonly uses, they would show us how to load and charge the weapons without using ammunition, and we got to get inside some of the vehicles and ask any questions we had about them.

One instance in particular during an extended training session we got to wear and use a night vision sight. The way it worked has the sight was mounted to the front of a helmet and you could move it up or down to put it over your eyes. This was the first time I ever used night vision and it wasn’t that hard to get used to. We were in a large storage building with all the lights shut off and if you were using the night vision your goal was to walk all the way across and back without hitting anything or tripping over anything. I easily did this because the night vision was very clear, everything was just green. Some movies have portrayed the idea that if someone looks through night vision equipment at a bright light then they can’t see and it will hurt their eyes, however this is just a Hollywood myth because when I was wearing the night vision goggles they turned the lights back on and I had no idea until I took them off because sight through the goggles is exactly the same in the light as it is in the dark.

Overall the weekend training sessions were very productive and a great learning experience, and the weekly sessions are how they keep us informed, motivated, and in shape.