A new crop New York privates got a preview of army life at Fort Hamilton base on May 12.
The six companies of recruits — one each for Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, and two from Brooklyn — and their families came to the city’s only army base on Saturday for a day of competitions and exhibitions to prepare them for basic training and beyond. Army spokeswoman Emily Gockley said it let the future soldiers see what was in store for them in the coming weeks and years, and reminded them of why they signed up in the first place.
“It makes them more familiar with what it’ll be like when they get into basic training and introduces their friends and families to what life in the Army is like and the benefits of enlisting are,” said Gockley.
The recruits battled it out in pull-up, sit-up, push-up, and tug-of-war contests; ran in a relay race; and practiced their grenade-throwing skills with water balloons. They also got to check out the Hummer H3 land vehicle, the Black Hawk helicopter, and the Fort Hamilton barracks, as well as check out their post-military educational opportunities and hear about their new benefits from Veterans Affairs. Captain Nick Kolodziey, who helped organize the event, said that he hoped it eased any worries the as-yet untested privates and their loved ones had about their service.
“If I put myself in their shoes, it would have alleviated some of the anxiety of the unknown,” Captain Kolodziey said, recalling his own fears and his family’s fears when he signed up. “When I joined, all my mom saw was that I was going off to war. This lets them see the Army is a community with a strong support network and lots of benefits.”
Kolodziey said the future soldiers would all ship out before August — now with a stronger sense of cooperation and commitment to serving their nation.
“It reminds them, ‘you’re part of something bigger than yourself now,’ ” the soldier said.