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December 4th, 2009
09:24 AM ET

A Soldier's Story: 24 hours in the Army

Editor's Note: "A Soldier's Story" is a new original series by CNN's "American Morning" that will track three military recruits from their final days as civilians through deployment. Our Jason Carroll has been given unprecedented access by the Pentagon as the president outlines a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. In part two, a new recruit spends his first 24 hours in the Army.

By Adam Reiss

As 18-year-old Will McLain leaves home for the first time there are tearful goodbyes with his parents. His mother Lori certainly did not want this day to come.

Will and his recruiter Sgt. Sheldon Rivers take the two hour drive to the processing center in Los Angeles where Will registers for the Army. He is asked about his tattoo and his medical records are thoroughly checked before he heads into the seminar to learn proper procedures for standing at attention.

"Sir yes sir!" Will is taught how to keep shoulders back and his stomach tucked in.

"I'm anxious, but I'm glad it's finally starting – like one of those days you don't think it will come and like bam it's here," says Will.

"Does anyone have any doubts, reservations or restrictions about joining the military?" shouts the drill instructor. "No sir" is the response from everyone.

"When I tell you to you are going to exit this bus quickly and safely, but the key word being quickly. Do you understand!," barks drill sergeant Crystal Scott as Will's bus arrives at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It's two hours outside of St. Louis and a world away from his home outside Los Angeles. More than 200 soldiers reported for duty with Will on his first day. 30,000 a year go through the 43rd AG Reception Station, at 600 a week.

Here he has several days of orientation before the real work sets in as he goes through thirteen weeks of basic training. There are a lot of drill sergeants screaming orders in every direction and Will appears a little dazed, if not from the new environment than certainly from the lack of sleep traveling for the past day. He will be required to give up his personal belongings, including his cell phone – his last point of contact with the outside world. Then it's time to collect his bedding, and lights out before they are back on a little more than four hours later.

Breakfast looks good – the only problem is he has less than three minutes to devour it before heading off to his next assignment. Will is 5'9" and 228 pounds, so he will definitley have to lose some weight. Drill sergeant Crystal Scott says she is sure he will lose it.

"We have ways to do it, you can be sure he will lose that weight."

Next he goes through more orientation, gets his gear, immunizations shots, and has his eyes tested. It turns out Will's eyesight is not 20/20, so he will be fitted with glasses.

Soon he is on a long line for the barber shop and the obligatory cut. He takes it like a man and can barely muster up the courage to look at himself in the mirror. It's Will in the mirror, but he's not yet the soldier he has set out to be.

"Not yet. I haven't been through boot. I won't even claim being a soldier until I'm done with that."

Filed under: A Soldier's Story • Military
soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. Troy

    Another commenter (his name rhymes with Dave) implied that the new recruit was brainwashed. I think the more proper response to a new recruit would be "thank you." They sacrifice so much of their own lives so that you can sit on your duff and waste yours, criticizing them due to your own bitterness and feelings of inadequacy.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  2. Steven

    The one, solitary day that it rained (and for about 20 minutes) at Ft. Leonard Wood while I was in BCT was right after i got my field chow but before I got to sit down. And it poured. The mashed potatoes and bread were certainly ruined but we ate anyway. Good stuff.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  3. Phil

    Everyone thinks Army basic training is a joke, I went through starting on 10 July 2007 and less than 50% of the recruits we started with graduated in my class. Fort Benning GA is not a joke especially in the summer time when it's 95 degrees 100% humidity, I saw numerous people heat cat (heat stroke) and there were even a couple deaths on Sand Hill due to the heat. 67 assigned 33 graduated. On our first day they ran us over to the railroad tracks that parallel the highway and told us how to go AWOL if we want. "If you can't (obscenity) cut it leave the Army doesn't need a bunch of (obscenity) weaklings. You're all going to Iraq and some of you may come back either in a body bag or a couple limbs lighter! Food for thought (obscenity)"

    Yes it's true the entire Marine Corps is an expeditionary force designed to take battlespace from the enemy, however Army Airborne units (82nd, 173rd among others) are trained to jump from a plane behind enemy lines, take ground, and hold it.

    We'll see who thinks Army Basic is a summer camp when they get up scarf an MRE then put on an 80lb ruck because 1. it rained that morning at 0400 when they got up (Stand To), thus soaking a week long packing list not to mention them 2. they have 3 cans of 7.62 blank ammo in their ruck, another 100rd bandolier of it bungied down, a 240 spare barrel, their weapon, full camelbak, 2 full 1 qt canteens, helmet, etc... then walk 12 miles through the woods, drop rucks in a triangular patrol base, get rained on again, then get up at 0400 and ruck another 10 miles with missions/events every 2 miles. Then you return to Sand Hill and stand in a sacred formation and get your crossed rifles (circular disc with crossed rifles on it with 2 long pins sticking out to pin to your uniform) pounded into your chest by your Drill Sergeants. Then it's off to Airborne... (a physically easy school now, but it still takes nuts to jump from a plane).

    You are not the same afterwards.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  4. Tony R

    5'9" 228?? I wish this kid alot of luck he's in for a world of hurt.
    BTW alot of people will compare Army basic to Marine Corps basic and its not even fair to do that...for one Marines are all trained to be basic rifleman, and the Army is just not structured that way. Regardless of how "soft" the Army is this kid should be commended for serving his country in a time of war. For those interested in how Marines get down at basic you will just have to experience it for yourself...theres no way to really describe it.
    One team one team one fight

    December 4, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  5. Patty

    Good Luck PVT. My daughter went through basic at Ft. Jackson almost 10 years ago. Fresh out of HS and it realy made changes in her that last today. She went from a girl that never cleaned her room to being immaculate. She is out of the Army now, after serving 1 year in Iraq, but the lessons she learned in Basic are still with her. Mom don't worry too much you will get a Man to replace the boy you sent off.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  6. Becky

    I went thru basic at ft Jackson SC one year ago and I loved it, it's a life changing expeirence however right before my deployement I fell off of a 5 ton truck and broke my back in 5 places making me ineligible to be in the army any longer if I cld go back and do it again I certainly would I was in Bravo co 3/60 3rd platoon 'wrecking crew' hoooaaahhhhh!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  7. Heather

    I did my BCT at FT. Leonardwood. Good times. You guys will enjoy it. Drill Sergeants do (2 years I believe) rotations, so the ones in the article might not be the same that you encounter. And there are some Sirs and Ma'ams to contend with at BCT. But for the most part, you will say Yes Drill Sergeant 50 million times a day!

    I look forward to the rest of this series as well! I'm sure it will bring back good (and some not so good) memories for all of us who have been "Lost in the Woods".


    December 4, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  8. Mike Diaz

    Any retired Army guy knows recruits do not respond to the Drill Sargent with Sir Yes Sir! The proper response is YES Drill Sargent!

    Sir Yes Sir! Will get the a response from The Drill Sargent of "Son Don't call me Sir I work for a living"

    December 4, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  9. Dan (fmr Army SGT and OIF veteran)

    Thank you to all of you young men and women for continuing with the great military tradition, regardless of the branch of service. For all of you preparing for basic training, remember one thing. The Drill Sergeants may seem like they don't like you, but don't take it personally; because it isn't. They will push buttons to test your intestinal fortitude and try to weed out the folks who really don't want to be there. You may run into your former Drill Sergeant one day. I certainly did. You will both have a good laugh about all the things that you thought were so tough and how you thought they were so mean. They are doing their job. Making Soldiers out of civilians.

    Good luck and never quit.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  10. Stephen

    @ Buzz.
    If you don't want to seem disparaging, then don't say it.

    Don't forget history either...During the Iraq Invasion, Marines did not 'secure the landing zone' for the Army....Army, Marines, and UK Armor all simultaneously attacked Iraq from different locations.

    Or how about the most important sea based invasion possibly in world history? Normandy invasion, not a single marine participated. Army sure held their own then.

    I will grant you, so far this basic looks even far easier than when I went through Fort Sill in 2004 and the accomadations do look pretty nice. I assure you this is not always the case and I also assure you that what he is going through right now is only reception and he has not gotten to real basic yet. Though I do know basic is getting softer every year.

    With that said, if you think a comment is going to be disparaging....don't say it in the first place. I have always had mutual respect for the marines and worked with them closely in Iraq and have nothing but good things to say about that experience.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  11. Steven

    Reaper7G, you must be an 11B or 12B (that's what the MOS was back when I served, at least) if you think Benning or Knox or any other BCT environment is better.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  12. Dave is gay

    Dave, without people like him you'd be speaking German deuchbag. You're part of the problem, whether you know it or not.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  13. Katie

    Once i turn 18 in may i'm joining up with the Coast Guard. Even though the ARMY is different than the CG i think Boot Camp will basically be the same. And from what i know, you do not refer to a Drill Instructer as "Sir". It is "Yes, Drill Sargent!" But that's just what i heard. I'm a little apprehensive of joining because i live in Kansas City, MO. And basic from the CG is in Sexton NJ. Which is really far away from missouri. I'm a little scared, but i want to join. I want to be the best i can be, and i think the military will help with that. I'm going to talk to a recruiter on Dec 8. And i'm going to join in may or june of next year. I think basic is going to be around 12 or 13 weeks long. I think the physical and mental pressure they put you under to make the grade, and to be the best will be very different at first, because i dont handle authority pretty well and i need to learn. But Good luck Will.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  14. Irving 143

    The "Sir, yes sir!" business was a real flub on the part of whoever's writing this thing. As for Will's arrival at Fort Leonard Wood, wow! Things have really changed since I went through boot there in '76!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  15. Adrian

    Must be nice to have a grin on your face in the first 24 hours of Boot Camp. Lets see the first 24 hours of Boot Camp for a Unites States Marine Recruit.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  16. brandon

    CNN should have tracked a Soldier going to Ft. Benning. I respect Will and hope for the best.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  17. Steven

    I went through Basic Training at 'Fort Lost in the Woods' in 1999. Good stuff. I'm interested to see what Battalion and Company he ends up with.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  18. Curtis

    Why did CNN choose a soldier who's going to be in a support role? Couldn't CNN have found a young man who's going to be the infantry and actually fighting? Come on, CNN, give us stories about the men actually doing the fighting. Get serious and go to Ft. Benning.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  19. Jennie

    I was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood and was watching this story on CNN this morning at the gym and thought I recognized the place. hehe

    December 4, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  20. Jessie

    Never thought I would join (Air Force). But after twenty years, I don't regret it one bit.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  21. DALE

    Sounds like the Author made this one up (part of it at least). The Army go to basic training not Boot Camp. Boot Camp is in the Marine Corps. The Army BCT is only 8 weeks, not 13 weeks. Marine Boot Camp is just under 13 weeks.

    If you want to have a nice getaway for 8 weeks and have your three minute breakfast by all means join the army, but you will always be a bag of unprofessional and sloppy mess. If you want to become a professional Soldier, join the Marine Corps. But I guess you can tell that our Hero Will is much better in the army, he had not got the courage to look at his bald grap in the mirror, boo hoo hoo.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  22. Frank Valentin

    I just want to wish this soldier the best of luck, just getting back from my deployment in northern Iraq it seems like it was just yesterday that i graduated basic (in 2005). Once again i just hope the best in this soldier's career

    December 4, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  23. Jane

    I went through BCT last year. I went through "Relaxin Jackson" But really its not so relaxing at all. We still did everything that was required of us to become Soldiers. Granted I am a female so I did not have the option to go through Fort Benning like "real soldiers" do.. But I did just as well as any of the males there. Expert PT scores, Expert marksmen, I even got the chance to go to Airborne School and receive my wings after I completed AIT in Fort Lee. I did experience the Fort Benning. It was hot and miserable.. But I don't see the reason to judge others on how well of a solider they are by which Basic Training they attended.. I am now in Iraq doing the same things that those who went through Benning are doing. I am just as good of soldier as anyone else is.

    But Will keep up the good work and I think I speak for all of those here that we are proud of you.. You signed in durning a time of war. That takes guts! I am proud to serve with you.


    December 4, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  24. LIsa

    My son is currently at Ft Leondard Wood. He graduates AIT MP school soon and we are so proud of him and all these other young people. This story mirriors our own family is a lot of ways. Football family to Army family. Stay Positive and Best wishes to all. Thanks to all who have served.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  25. AF_Ssgt

    @Tom Grant: At Basic Training you call the instructors Sir/Ma'am, regardless of their either enlisted or officer status. In fact, that is one of the biggest problems I had when shipping out to Tech School, where I kept calling all the SSgt and TSgt "Sir/Ma'am"
    Basic Training is a different atmospher than real world. This article seems accurate enough.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  26. Good Luck Will

    Hey @Buzz...i think you can thank the USAF Combat Controllers for securing landing zones in hostile territory. Get your info straight. Try Googling Combat Controller and see what you find.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  27. Jessie

    Glad to have you in our fraternity.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  28. Dave Speir

    Re: Will McLain story,
    Wow does this bring back memories. I would love to be able to send this guy mail or email if that would be possible. I know exactly what he is going through. I was a combat engineer in Viet Nam in 1970. I took my A.I.T. training at Fort Leonard Wood just like him. It was the most beautiful country there (not far from the Ozarks). I learned to be a Combat Engineer there and practiced it in Viet Nam. Unlike him though I took my basic training at Ft. Jackson S.C. and after transferred to Ft. Leonard Wood for Advanced Individual Training. I would not trade my Army experience for anything. I hated it at the time and got out (honorably of course) after my first enlistment. But it was the "foremost" experience of my entire life and made me more of a person that I ever would have been without it. Good luck to you Will, you will never be the same after this. Dave Speir, Florida

    December 4, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  29. Oscar

    This young man is making a genuine change in his life for the good of his country. God bless him and his family for their dedication and service. On another note, you cannot compare the training between the Army and the Marine Corps or any other service for that matter. Each branch of service serves a purpose and the training they go through will vary based on mission requirements. It's unfair to say that Army Basic Training is like summer camp compared to ther Marines because obviously if it were the same, then they would be Marines. However you look at it, in the end, we are one united fighting force and are only as strong as those who join and those who support.

    By the way, Army Basic training is not 13 weeks long as reported in this article. That would cover Marine Corps Boot Camp minus Marine Combat Training and MOS school.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  30. ahsuki


    I arrived at PI in 2000. Wen to both 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion squad bays and you are right about how horrible they are.

    During basic training in the Marines a recruit always refers to his DI as "Sir." If we called the DI Sergeant and he/she is a Staff Sergeant then we would be demoting he or she and would be sent to the sand pit for an indefinte perieod of time.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  31. Jessica

    Went through this in 1995 at "Ft Lost in the Woods". From what I've read here it seems no one has mentioned the immense amount of cursing that goes on! Nothing but f-bombs every 5 seconds.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  32. Jerry P

    It is good to see him going thru basic training but does the Army not have a weight standard anymore because when I was in it used to and also before you were allowed to go in the Army there was no way you could weigh that much. I know times have changed but is this the normal now. For him at 5 ft 9 to be that much he should be at like 185 maybe for max weight at his age.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  33. Jay

    Gee glad to see we have so many pro war people here. So for you to comment that my son's going in and my grand sons going in, let's see the story about the families that are preparing to bury there sons and daughters. These wars were raging, can someone just answer one question? What are we getting out of this?

    December 4, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  34. Tribble

    We should all be proud of the sacrifice this young man is taking. If it was not for him and other men and women like him we would not be a free country. It doesn't matter if it is the Army, Navy, Marines or any other branch of the military. These young men and women make a hell of a sacrifice, we should all be proud!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  35. 11B

    Reporter lost all credibility from an otherwise interesting profile when they quoted the soldiers as saying "Sir, yes sir!" As others have pointed out, an NCO would chew him out for that. Also, at reception there wasn't much yelling by "drill sergeants", (not drill instructors as this story stated). I think the reporter is confusing Full Metal Jacket with Army basic training.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  36. Adam

    I went to Ft. Knox about 2 years ago for Basic. Nobody calls Drill Sergeants "sir". This is obviously a glaring error in production of the video. They were probably saying "yes sir" to an officer at MEPS, not an NCO.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  37. Chelsea

    I actually went to the same base as him and i remember DS Scott.
    Boot camp was the best time of my life and you always have to remember that no matter what you are going through someone out of the 200+ people has gone through it and just remember it only gets better.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  38. jdmanzana

    My loved one just finished week 1 of red phase at Ft. Sill... his battalion is having issues with all the young kids that think they know it all and can't keep their mouths shut and the chip on their shoulder in tact. My sister was a DS at Ft. Jackson for a while and she gave him a lot of valuable advice but mainly : fly under the radar, keep your nose clean, stay out of trouble, do as your told, shut your mouth and know that if your battle buddy is an eff-up, you're gonna get smoked a lot. I think he has written me now this past few weeks than in our two years. I am proud of him and support him in all he does. And thankful for a sister that served for 20 years and just retired.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  39. RP


    You state:

    "While the Army may be suited for a wide scale invasion, and the enventual occupation of a hostile territory, our Marines are the ones we send in first to secure the landing zone for the Army to safely come ashore."

    Obviously you are unfamiliar with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division or the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. The Army is more than capable of conucting it own forced entry operations. If I recall correctly, it was the Army's 10th Mountain Division that was sent into Afghanistan first before the Marines and was in a position to serve up terrorists on a platter.

    Each service is important for it's own unique capability but get your facts right before you start the chest-beating.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  40. VitoEod

    HAHA sounds about right. Just came from Ft. LeonardWood a few months back not a bad place to be for basic. Hope it doesn't snow!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  41. Gregory Hamilton

    this aint so tough you got more young blacks and latinos dying in the streets of america everyday then you have killed in iraq and afghanistan...Basic about surviving and growin up in the hood. NewOrleans Projects baby thats some basic training for ya

    December 4, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  42. Ted

    Ahhhhhhhhhh, brings back memories! LOL))

    December 4, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  43. Brandon

    It's definitly a shock at first. Spent my entire IET at Fort Leonard Wood last year. Good luck!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  44. Eric

    Honestly the worst week of Basic is the 1st one. Endless lines, processing, shots, forms, getting your gear, yada yada. You are in lines all day every day. BORING! Then you ship down range for real basic, which to me was way more fun. Drill, PT, BRM, Nav, hand to hand combat, etc etc. And now with ACUs, I'm not sure though what basic is like now, but I don't think you need to spit shine your boots which to me was the most boring part at the end of the day.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  45. J Arnolds

    Recruits going through Marine Corps Recruit Training says....
    – Yes, sir
    – No, sir
    – Aye, sir

    That's it. They don't refer to Drill Instuctors by their rank. In fact any other military personnel they encounter during training are called "sir". Upon graduation they are called Marines and their drill instructors are refered to by their rank.

    Not sure how the Navy or Air Force does it, but that should clear up some of the "all services do it like this" garbage.

    The Marine Corps chooses to do this to seperate Marines from Recruits. You are not a Marine until you've received your Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. Until then you are a recruit and you refer to all our Marines as "sir", because they have earned it.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  46. LCpl Murray Austin

    Thats weak.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  47. 2Lt Ward

    Freedom is never Free. Thank-you for your service to your country. I currently serve in the Canadian Forces and our countries will be serving side by side in Afghanistan. Laughin at all the "looks like a cakewalk compared to the Marines " comments....too funny. I agree that they should leave some of the mystery of basic as a mystery. Basic needs to be hard.....if you break down cuz someone trashes your room or makes you do PT at 4am or gives you 3 mins to eat....what the heck would happen when bullets fly? They need to break you down so they could build you up! Best wishes from your brothers up north.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  48. T Bjorklund

    This young man has volunteered to serve his nation and we should honor that, not knock whether he is a Marine or an Army Soldier. Will is taking a brave step to change his life, his parents are proud and support him and so do I. What ever branch of service a volunteer in todays military should be honored!!

    You go Private Will McLain, be Army Strong proudly!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  49. Ryan

    That first day sucks. And Will hasn't even started. The 1st day downrange is a good one. Of course, I was at Sand Hill. But I am sure it is tough no matter where you go.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  50. Child Of God

    God is with him and going to keep him safe

    December 4, 2009 at 11:27 am |

    I'm a proud parent of a soldier. He is been in the Army for a year now.. and is hard on them.. on the family.. he also left for the first time ever away from home. after graduation in Thousand Oaks H.S. Is a good story... but it is a bit unfair for Will to be followed for the story... like others have commnet... But I wish him the best... he will get the best training in the world .. I wrote to my son everyday.. cause you only get to talk to your soldier for less than five minutes on Sundays..and they need to hear our support constanly to keep them strong.. now he is in Colorado Springs. and next year he will go to Iraq. They need our full support. I'm proud of him.. and of all our troups. I'm proud of our Country.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  52. Amanda

    Congrats Will. From one soldier (of another branch) to another good luck, stay strong and believe in yourself.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  53. Michael

    That's a far cry from the bootcamp I experienced at Ft Knox in 1983. Man. Have times changed.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  54. Anthony

    I would like to thank will for his VOLUNTARY service to protect and defend this most wonderful nation and what she stands for. I am a veteran myself, and it is an honor to welcome him to the "fraternity" of men and women who have served or are serving honorably. I challange all young men and women who are able to step up and volunteer to serve, wether it be with the armed services or community service organizations, just serve. To Will's parents, and especially his mother, stand tall and proud, your son could not be in the company of greater men or women, all of whom i beleive would stop at nothing to keep each other safe.



    December 4, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  55. big boy blue

    I cant wait till i turn 18 so i can enlist i have always wanted to do it my whole life i know it will be hard and i may hate it at times but i know it will make me a better and stronger person. thats want to be marines ftw

    December 4, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  56. john thursday

    did my basic at Jackson in 64 and combat engineer school at leonardwood in 65 and yes, it is cold there this time of year. Female DI's? doesn't seem right. I missed one week of basic because I was in the hospital. Had to take the makeup excercise's with the real flunkies. Can still see the DI with his nose touching mine and spraying spittle while cussing me out for being a loser. Wanted to say wait, I was int the hospital but knew I had to keep the trap shut and bear it. If I was 17 again instead of 62 I would enlist in a heartbeat.
    Stay alert Will.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  57. TCC6

    Don't worry, Joshua, there are no women at Benning and boot at the home of the Infantry is still lean and mean and my drills were outstanding. I went through two years ago and we had no "stress cards" (in fact we heard about them mid-cycle and laughed) no TV on weekends, and I don't think one minute of our training would be suitable for any channel except maybe HBO (profane doesn't even begin to describe it). I dropped 30-pounds in ten weeks from the nonstop onslaught of push-ups, flutter-kicks and hill sprints.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  58. Troy

    Many things have changed since I went through Ft Leonard Wood. I am hoping to see more on this series.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  59. karen c

    I would not have made it in the military, after 40 yrs of nursing, I could never, ever call a man SIR. Never have and never will. Nor do I allow my kids to. No Maam"s either. Thats for lower class talking to higher class. And a woman who calls a man Sir is demeaning herself. It was all I could do to say Doctor.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  60. takn

    I have nothing but respect for any young man or woman who volunteers to serve our nation. We owe them our greatest debt of gratitude and every bit of support we can offer. My own son joined the Navy two years ago and his journey is not unlike young Will's. I wish him the best, I pray for his and all our soldier's safety and may we have leadership that understands the objectives and works hard to end these wars as soon as possible.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  61. Richard

    people's stupidity never ceases to amaze me !!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  62. J Arnolds

    @Buzz Hoorah 3rd Battalion!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  63. Lisa

    What a nice young man, we all wish you well. Mom you will be ok! God Bless you!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  64. john

    Reaper7G-"Real soldiers" can spell Fort Benning correctly.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  65. Matt

    Fond memories on the 43d AG... thank you for covering another soldier going through FLW, during my time there we had a crew from 60 minutes following- doing essentially the same thing. Despite the praise (and criticism) that your news agency will get for this story, rest assured that its impact will go far beyond a simple documentation of the "day in the life" style.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  66. TeriAnne

    This is a great series and will humanize the dedication and sacrifices America's young men and women make for the sake of duty, patriotism and belief in this country. Joining the military and preparing for deployment is not an easy row to hoe, and every recruit will run through his or her particular gauntlet to get to the other side. Please be honest and candid with these stories. These recruits are average young men and women, but their commitment should be honored and commended.

    However, please give credit where credit is due; "unprecedented" access by the US Army was vanguarded by The Denver Post's recent multimedia story "Ian Fisher : American Soldier." It's a similar story told in a different way, but was also granted full and honest access by the Army's PAO. The face of the Army is changing, and along with it the Army's decision to be more accessible and forthcoming, so these kinds of stories can be told.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  67. Pablo Briones

    Wow!! Looks like summer camp compared to the Marines!!

    December 4, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  68. Buzz

    My son became a Marine at Parris Island. This young man joined the Army. That is readily apparent from watching this video. I'm sorry if I seem disparaging, but the Army is not the Marine Corps, and vice versa. For that we should all be grateful. While the Army may be suited for a wide scale invasion, and the enventual occupation of a hostile territory, our Marines are the ones we send in first to secure the landing zone for the Army to safely come ashore.

    If you should doubt me, please visit any squad bay in the Third Battalion at Parris Island. The accomdations there make Fort Leonard Wood look like a motel by comparison. And yet at Parris Island they make Marines, one of the finest fighting tools ever developed by this country, and at cost below all the other branches of service. As I said, we should be grateful.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  69. Joe

    I was raised not far from Fort Lost in The Woods, I ffel sorry for the young mman if he is there this time of year, IT IS COLDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

    December 4, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  70. Barb

    My Grandson, 18, will be going through these same steps 2 weeks after graduation in June 2010. We will be reading these articles together. I am anxious and nervous for him. I am also VERY proud of him as I am sure your family and friends are of you! Thank you ever so much for stepping in the same steps of manybrave men and women before you to keep our freedom of this great country.

    December 4, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  71. Mike Vollmer

    Thanks, Will! You are very much appreciated.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  72. Dexter

    You are setting out on the adventure of a life time...I went through the same thing you are 21 years ago and would do it all again. The things I learned, the people I met and the experiences I had are not measurable by anyone other than another soldier. I served in Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-91 and got to travel to places I never thought I would see. I am proud of you and all the young people joining...God Bless you in your journey.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  73. Erica

    This takes me back to my basic training in Fort Jackson, SC. Although, I hear they are letting these new soldiers actually have more contact with the outside world-to include their use of cell phones shortly after completing the first phase. These drill sgts are getting way to lenient on them 🙂

    December 4, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  74. Parker

    As a sailor, I think having a reporter "embedded" is unfair to Will and the other troops going through Basic. Basic is non-stop. From the moment you rev until the moment you tap, Basic does not stop. That is why it works. You are completely isolated from the real world and your family. Your RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) or DIs (Drill Instructors) tare you down and build you up. This transformation from civilian to sailor, marine or soldier is not possible while being a "reality t.v. star." Although, as a member of the military, I am interested in this story, and hope the best for my future brothers-in-arms, I am disappointed that the harsh reality of boot will be blunted for these recruits.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  75. Ashanti

    You are a good man Will, may God continually be with you to guide and protect you and your fellow army brethren, I will lift your name up in prayer always, God bless you!

    December 4, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  76. Yasmin

    God Bless him and others who defend our country

    December 4, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  77. gbao1117

    This strikes home for me. My son is in his 2nd week of his Basic Combat Training. The toughest part for us was the goodbye, but I know he has the tougher part of the process.

    I am a proud parent of an Army Soldier.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  78. John

    The Pentagon made a wise move in following someone doing basic at Leonard Wood. At Benning, there is so much cursing I don't think even a 2-second clip could omit it.

    He's also only in reception at this point, which is not considered part of basic training.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  79. steve

    Good that everyone get's a "fly on the wall" impression of basic training (boot camp). I remember it like it was yesterday (back in 1967). One thing I noticed is the "sir, yes sir" response. When we were in boot camp, and beyond, sergeants told us never to call them "sir" - they did not want to be mistaken for an officer. The response was to be "Yes sergeant", under penalty of pain. I doubt that this has changed.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  80. Joshua

    1. he has a female DI when I went through at Benning, we had all males that would not hesitate to throw you around for respect purposes.
    2. I don't think that a soldiers basic training should be covered becasue people will be feeling that the DI's are too hard on the recruits and the military will become softer. This will hurt the military because what is needed is tough, hard, obdient, soldiers that will be able to take charge of situations under fire. Not soft soldiers that had to use stress cards because they couldn't take people yelling at them. If they something small like being yelled at or getting PT'd until failure how are they going to take being shot at or the stress of combat?

    December 4, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  81. Springfield

    Good story! I would love to seem them follow a woman going into the military.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  82. Ryan D

    this isnt news

    December 4, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  83. Trevor Aday

    What this guy is doing is great. I have nothing but respect for this young man and i only wish their were more like him.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  84. Anna Kamps

    It's exciting to see this...again. I went to basic at Fort Leonard Wood and seeing this brings back some memories. The only negative is that it is taking away the mystery of basic training. People will know what to expect now when entering the army. The mystery of not knowing is the key to good training. You don't know what to expect, but you learn to react to it.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  85. sonofdy

    sir, yes sir is the marines.

    In the army you don't EVER call an NCO sir.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  86. C F

    seems like a walk in the park compared to what my son experienced in the Marines..... Hope the Army trains them well!

    December 4, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  87. Lisa B.

    I am so proud of anyone who joins the armed forces for the U.S. My brother is in the Army and I am so proud of him! I wish this young man good luck on his journey.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  88. Darlene

    God bless this young man and all the others who are "willing" to put their lives on the line for me !!!

    December 4, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  89. Reaper7G

    thats not the real army, real army soldiers go to fort bening, Georgia, that basic is a joke

    December 4, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  90. Guy

    I am going for BCT this January and I can't wait. Following up on his journey is going to make me feel more confident and prepared as my deadline approaches. I will be keeping up with this story all the way..
    Thanks to CNN for doing this but it would be nicer if we could get little more details along the way.
    Good Luck Will !!


    December 4, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  91. DS

    You go Will!!!

    December 4, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  92. Lori

    Thanks for serving.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  93. Tom Grant

    Perhaps the author would benefit from the article below...

    December 4, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  94. Tom Grant

    Enlisted men are not called Sir. No Drill Sergeant would allow his troops to call him sir.

    Obviously the reporter was not accurately capturing what was said.

    The correct response would be "Yes, Drill Sergeant!!"

    Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the article now.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  95. Dave

    He fell for it. Hook, line and sinker. Brainwashed...

    December 4, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  96. kristy catlett

    I can relate as my own son leaves for boot camp Feb 14th. I dread this day. God bless our country and Lord please give us PEACE!

    December 4, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  97. Tom

    Sounds pretty much like the AF routine

    Welcome to the wonderful world of the military. Pretty nice actually.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  98. steve

    I'm going to sign up.

    December 4, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  99. Chelsea

    Looks about right. Hopefully I can see this entire series before I ship. It'd be good to get some names/faces of a couple of the drills at Fort Leonard Wood before I get there!!

    December 4, 2009 at 10:19 am |
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