Thomasville- The U.S. Army is celebrating its 230th birthday on Flag Day. And during a time of war, a group of new recruits are being prepared for what may lie ahead. They're being eased into what to expect during basic training in a few weeks, and then complex assignments shortly afterward.
Future soldier Devon Stephens is being introduced to his new lifestyle in the military. He joined the Army to fulfill a childhood dream. "I was around seventh or eighth grade and I flew in an airplane. Ever since then I said, man, I want to go into the military," says Stephens.
Stephens and his fellow recruits are being prepared for basic training, and learning about their noncommissioned officers. That's a trust builder their commanders say strengthens the chain of command. "Those are really who will be in charge of them, their leaders, and their mentors," says Captain Brian Kadet.
The NCOs will be mentors who could very possibly lead these new troops into battle in Iraq or Afghanistan. They're a new generation fighting a new type of war. "It's an enemy that doesn't wear a uniform. It's an enemy that doesn't fight with a conduct of war," says Kadet.
The meet and greet isn't only to introduce new recruits to the Army. It's also to introduce them to the transformation of themselves. "They come back and feel more confident in their abilities, and they know a little bit more about what they want to do in life," says Kadet.
Each has a different life, and different reasons for signing up to protect America's way of life. "My Dad is a retired first sergeant and it just was part of growing up in me," says Private Robin Fields. "Ever since I was a little kid I knew I was going to do something in the military," adds Private Rich Lyons.
The recruits' next step is a big step, the start of a new journey, destination unknown. "Wherever I gotta go, that's the best I'm going to serve. Somebody needs my help, then that's what Im going to do," says Stephens. His is an attitude that will keep these 25 recruits a family no matter where they're assigned.
The Army is offering big incentives to get people to join. Recruits can get up to $60,000 for college and up to $20,000 in bonuses.