Inside Basic Training - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Inside Basic Training

^ Senior Drill Sergeant Ismael Godoy ^ Senior Drill Sergeant Ismael Godoy
^ Private George Mahieu, from Kingsland ^ Private George Mahieu, from Kingsland
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February 3, 2003

Many go in as naive teenagers-- unsure exactly what to expect. But Army recruits come out of basic training as soldiers. Knowing that now more than ever, they may have to risk their lives in service of our country.

When the drill sergeant gives an order, these recruits jump into action. "We make them physically strong, mentally strong, morally strong," says Senior Drill Sergeant Ismael Godoy.

These infantrymen are 11 weeks into their 14-week session turning them from civilians into soldiers. "They learn how to be a soldier and what it takes to be a man," says Company Commander Capt. Derek Denny.

They're all young men like Private George Mahieu from Kingsland, who says: "I'm having fun with it." But basic training is tough, especially for an 18-year old away from his family. "Right when I go to bed I start thinking about home," said Mahieu. But he knows he's got plenty of support back home. "Everybody's really proud of me for joining. I'm proud of myself."

So is Private Bruce Burrows. “I know I'll be proud of myself that I made it through this. My parents will be."

His father back in Waycross was also in the infantry. "His eyes got so big when he heard I was joining the infantry." These soldiers know they could soon be sent to fight a war with Iraq.

"It scares me that I'm going to have to be going over there and there's going to be bullets coming back at me," Burrows says.

But that worry makes them take this training even more seriously. "That's what I signed up for,” says Mahieu. “I took the risk when I signed up, and I'd be glad to go and fight for my country."

In today's training the soldiers are learning how to check and clear a room, but before they enter a building, they have to learn how to sneak up on it and check it for booby traps. If they don't do that right, they could be killed before they ever get inside.

"What I teach them right now and the standards I set for them might be able to save their lives or the lives of their battle buddies," said Godoy. This kind of urban warfare is more common than even many of these young soldiers realized. "That's where most of our wars are fought now is what they tell us," said Burrows.

And this is the kind of mission these soldiers could have to complete if American troops make it to Baghdad. "They're training us on how we would go into cities strategically and minimize casualties to ourselves," Mahieu said.

Drill Sergeant Godoy takes time to critique every team's performance. He knows what they learn here could mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield. "I try to give them the best that I can."

And he knows the pride he'll feel in a couple of weeks, when he leads his cheering platoon out of their final difficult field training mission, in front of a waiting group of fresh recruits. "They get to see my privates turn into soldiers. And you hear that noise so loud that it gives you goose bumps," says Sgt. Godoy.

It also gives him a sense of accomplishment, knowing he's helping create the next great generation of soldiers in the United States Army. Once the soldiers in that company graduate from basic training, they'll be assigned to various units at other bases where they will get more advanced training.

Some will go through Airborne and possibly Ranger and Special Forces training at Fort Benning. It's possible some of those soldiers' new units could be deployed to the Persian Gulf.

posted at 12:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com