Fort Benning: Another chapter down

Earlier this week my husband, two dogs (Scrappy and Eli) and I closed in on another chapter in our lives at Fort Benning. Ryan was there for the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and I was working as a journalist at the Bayonet & Saber newspaper in the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office. Fortunately, I can say that I was lucky enough to end my time there with one of the biggest events and stories of the year: The Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

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The Best Ranger Competition was the most interesting event I have covered. The competition involves 50 teams of two, who compete in a rigorous three-day, 60-hour event. It was so cool to see the kick off and the final buddy run at the end, and everything in between. I also met Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first females to graduate Ranger School! I have now met both πŸ™‚

I had the opportunity to embrace new adventures, too! I conquered my fear of heights and stairs and climbed the Ranger tower at Victory Pond. It was so worth it for the pictures and footage we got! (See below.)

I wrote two stories on the competition: Best Ranger Competition creates new challenges and National Guard team captures Best Ranger title.

Both stories were so fun to write. Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy came for the awards ceremony, so that was so cool to hear him speak! He even retweeted a few of my tweets β€” he’s very active on social media! πŸ™‚

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Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy speaking at the Best Ranger Competition awards ceremony at Fort Benning.

I was also so excited to see Capt. Robert Killian win. His family spoke with me the first day of the competition and they knew it was his year. It was a perfect story.

Along with our team we have some amazing photographers! You can check out all their Ranger competition photos at www.fortbenningphotos.com. Some photos were featured in the ArmyTimes!

On that note, I was glad to end my time at Fort Benning writing such fun stories; however, I’m extremely sad to leave such a great team! All of my coworkers were so talented, smart and beyond funny! But I know we will all keep in touch!

Now on to the other exciting news in my life: I have officially accepted a position as a Web Specialist II with Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families. Working at SU was a dream of mine since I was young β€” it feels so surreal!

I’m so thankful to have had our wonderful and fun chapter at Fort Benning. I will miss all of our friends we have made β€” that is one of the hardest parts about being in the military community, you always have to leave your friends! 😦

But on a positive note,Β  I am also excited to start our new chapter in New York. It is bittersweet.

As my good friend Courtney said, “You may be going to New York, but you’ll always be a Georgia Peach!”

We are currently in Florida spending some time with family before we head up north. We are also going to New Orleans (my fourth time β€” it’s my favorite!) next week. I can’t wait!

 

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Lightning injures Army Ranger School students and instructors

Forty Ranger school students and four Ranger school instructors were injured by a lightning strike during a lightning protection protocol training on Wednesday. Nine students and two instructors remained hospitalized overnight to ensure they were okay. Fortunately, no one suffered serious injuries.Β  All 44 soldiers returned to duty on Thursday.

The lightning struck at approximately 4:55 p.m. Central time on Wednesday at Eglin Air Force Base in northern Florida. The students were two-thirds away from completing the last phase of Ranger School, the Florida Phase (also called the Swamp Phase).

Light in dark red sky. Source: iStock The United State Army Ranger School is an extremely rough combat leadership course that lasts for 61 days. There are three phases that must be completed: Fort Benning Phase, Mountain Phase, and Florida Phase (to read more about these phases and what they include, click here). Ranger School is the Army’s most challenging course. The school is assured to test a student’s abilities to focus mentally and physically under extreme conditions. The daily fight to stay awake and go without food for long periods of time is just the beginning of the strenuous situations the students go through. Losing tremendous amounts of weight and ruck marching for almost 15-20 miles a day takes a large toll on the body. Each student, successful or not, returns to their unit as a more experienced Soldier and has become an established leader.

I had my very own experience with Ranger School as my husband, my boyfriend at the time, enrolled in this course. He left October 9, 2011 and passed each phase on the first try. He completed the school and graduated on December 9, 2011. This is also a difficult time on relationships as the only way to communicate with the Ranger is through writing letters, with the exception of quick phone calls at the end of each phase. So not only do the soldiers go through the agony of the phases above, but they also are disconnected from family and friends. As I stated above, each student who attends this course will always come back a stronger person and a great leader.

Sources: USA Today and Army Times