With two LEAP Ambassadors interning in Austin, the organization has more experiential diversity than normal. For example, two of the Ambassadors and SHAIP student Mackenzie Smith, recently woke at the break of dawn to head to Fort Hood, a military base in Killeen, Texas. We were able to get the full military experience, or at least as close as two of us are likely to get.
Before we began our exploration of Fort Hood, we needed a proper education on military vocabulary. The term HOOAH (Who-a) has a multiplicity of meanings. It can mean anything and everything: “I’m at a loss for words,” “yes,” “thank you,” “understood,” or “I don’t have the answer, but will check on it.” While it can mean all of these things, it cannot mean “no.” After being introduced to the meaning of this phrase, our group was asked if we were excited to be at Fort Hood. We missed our queue, saying “yes,” rather than the expected “HOOAH.”
First, we explored military squad vehicles. Although the vehicles seem similar, they each serve a different purpose.
For instance, the M109A6, also known as the Black Widow is an American self-propelled howitzer, and it is the most common form of indirect artillery. M109A6 has the capability of firing a maximum rate of fire of four rounds per-minute.
M1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier supplies protected transport of a nine-man infantry squad and two man crew during assaults. The M1126 is also supplied with various survival kits to adjust to different operating conditions.
Next, the Austin interns stepped out of their comfort zones and experienced military training with soldiers from Fort Hood.
Many of us had the opportunity to participate in Humvee simulations, which were intriguing and informative.
We were encouraged to take the opportunity of being at Fort Hood to understand why individuals in the military choose to serve. Many who serve do it for their families, discipline, or the opportunity to do something that is bigger than themselves. In the short time we spent with the Fort Hood Soldiers, they were able to deliver a real experience on a military base.
While this may not have been new for Jezel Luna (who, in addition to being a LEAP Ambassador and Austin Intern, is also in the US Military), it was new for the rest of us.
Because of this experience, we have a better understanding of why these brave men and women continue to do what they do. We know that during this legislative process we will be thinking about the men and women who give up their life to serve the people of this country. We are forever grateful for their selflessness and sacrifices.