Editor's Note: We're tracking three recruits from their final days as civilians through to deployment. It's an unprecedented look inside the life of a soldier. CNN's Jason Carroll reports for American Morning's special series, "A Soldier's Story." Watch part one and two, and tune in to American Morning on Wednesday for part three.
By Adam Reiss, CNN
Correspondent Jason Carroll and I returned to Fort Leonard Wood Monday to check back in on the recruit we are profiling for our ongoing series, "A Soldier’s Story." You may remember meeting Will McLain when we first met him in his hometown of Rosamond, California.
We spent the first couple days of basic combat training with him and now he is with his platoon in his third week of basic training. Will is changing before our eyes both physically and mentally. He has lost ten pounds and is really on his way to becoming a U.S. Army soldier.
He has been assigned a battle buddy, Demetrius Daniels, 23, from Detroit, Michigan. A battle buddy is an interesting concept. The Battle Buddy system is the policy of pairing Initial Entry Training (IET) Soldiers into teams for the following reasons:
- Mutual support and assistance
- Teaching teamwork
- Developing a sense of responsibility and accountability for fellow soldiers
- Improving safety during training
- Reducing the likelihood and opportunity for sexual harassment, misconduct, and suicide gestures or attempts.
Essentially you do not go anywhere without your battle buddy, and Will and Demetrius seem to get along just fine.
On Monday, all the soldiers went through a drill in the NBC chamber. It is where they drill the soldiers on the dangers of a potential sarin gas attack. For the purposes of the test, they use small plastic pellets that they cook on a grill in the chamber. The result is stinging throat and eyes.
Soldiers go in fifteen at a time and go through several exercises before they are ordered to remove their masks. Most of the soldiers begin jumping up and down and try to do anything to ease the pain. One soldier couldn’t make it and ran from the chamber. Will was successful and passed the test.
Please tune in next Wednesday for part three of A Soldier’s Story with Will McLain.