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Be a Guardsman: Potential recruits learn the ropes at Fort Harrison event

By TYLER MANNING | (Helena, Mont.) Independent Record | Published: August 4, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (Tribune News Service) — Montanans between the ages of 16 and 34 got a little taste of what it’s like to be in the U.S. Army National Guard Saturday at the first-ever “Be a Guardsman event hosted at Fort Harrison.

The event’s goal was to show young people what some of the training is like in the National Guard. Organized by what guardsmen refer to as Training Site, the Guard spent approximately six months preparing for the event.

Maj. Janel Wiese, a recruiter, said the Guard used a media push through its public affairs office, social media and recruiters across Montana to get the word out about Be a Guardsman.

“It was really a team effort between training site and recruiters statewide,” Wiese said. “Everyone is represented here in some way.”

The potential recruits spent the weekend at Fort Harrison and participated in a live-fire demonstration, rappelling, an equipment display, a paintball game that taught squad tactics, physical training and training in the simulation center. The potential recruits got hands-on experience with nearly everything the National Guard uses from helicopters to robots.

Amy Hubbell, 16, from Columbus, said she had wanted to join the military since age 14. When a local recruiter told her about Be a Guardsman, she knew she had to come.

“I know for sure that I want to join the Guard now,” Hubbell said. “It’s great because there are no personal opinions involved. You really get an insight into what it’s really like.”

Camden Way, 16, from Kalispell, also decided to come when a recruiter asked what he was doing that weekend. Way said he really enjoyed all the training they did during the day. He said his favorite part was rappelling, but noted he was really excited for paintball, which would take place later that afternoon.

In total, 42 potential recruits from across Montana came to the first Be a Guardsman event. Wiese said the goal was to get 20 to show up, so they were very pleased with the turnout.

“If we get even a handful of enlistments, then it’s a win,” Wiese said. “Providing kids with the chance to do something they’ve never done before is great.”

Wiese said the National Guard intends to host the event again next year. The goal is to make it bigger and better in every way.

©2019 the Independent Record (Helena, Mont.)
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