FT. LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (WHNT) – “NOW GET OFF THE BUS. HURRY UP!” the Drill Sergeant bellowed. In less than a minute, the bus full of wide-eyed new recruits were lined up in two rows, staring straight ahead, fumbling to make sure their papers were in their left hand, their bags in their right.
While it’s nothing like what you see in the movies, arriving at basic training is to a certain degree frightening. Some recruits have been told what to expect, by friends or family members who have served, however others know little about what awaits them at reception.
As the Drill Sergeants will tell you, each recruit has a reason for being there – some good, some inspiring, some heartbreaking – but once they walk through that door, the differences disappear. They sit in rows, three to a bench, responding in unison “YES, DRILL SERGEANT.” They stare straight ahead, some suppressing tears, wondering what they have gotten into, others excited for a new adventure, to follow in a mother, brother, or father’s footsteps.
After the paperwork is filled out, but before they are given their uniforms, the recruits are allowed to make one phone call home, to assure family members they are safe and well.
Across the hall you can hear, softly at first, then all at once a cacophony of voices reciting the only words they are allowed to say:
“I have arrived at Ft. Leonard Wood. I am safe. I will call you when I can.”
Some calls are whispered, others made with voices thick with emotion, and then there are those full of pride. They have arrived. Their future starts now.