Becoming a Soldier

Charlie Company, Battallion 1-19, Platoon #4 Graduation Ceremony at Fort Benning, GA

My husband and I traveled last weekend to Fort Benning, GA to see our son, Nate, graduate from basic training (he’s in the army). They called it the “Turning Green Ceremony”, meaning that this is when they officially become a soldier. The soldiers were required to stand at attention for an hour, while the parents and loved ones were being briefed on the ceremony, the three day pass, etc. At one point during the ceremony, they all shouted in unison a decree of who they were and what their duties and commitments were. Basically, they shouted that they were highly trained, professional soldiers who protected each other, and their country and would defend it to the death. It seemed like a mighty roar going up into the atmosphere, very powerful.

Over the course of the next three days that we got to spend with our son, he shared many accounts of their activities during training, etc. He expressed how restrictive and hard it was, especially since they were having a heat wave with record highs in Georgia, sometimes it was 110 degrees. He said on one occasion, they rucked (a slow run or fast walk, carrying weapons in hand, back packs, etc.) 10 miles, wearing army pants, shirts, jackets and boots, in the heat of the day. He said the Drill Sgts. were going to have them ruck the 10 miles back, but nine of the young men passed out from heat casualty and they had to strip them down and call for ice sheets and began loading them in the backs of trucks, since the ambulances couldn’t get there fast enough. One young man ended up staying in the hospital.

He also shared that sometimes they would only get 45 minutes or maybe 2 to 3 hours sleep a night, when they had guard duty or received corrective training. He said that when one person did something wrong, the whole platoon would usually receive corrective training. On some occasions, they were forced to keep trying to do push-ups an hour or two after they were past muscle failure.

Nate had a skint place on his head that resulted from a hand-to-hand combat contest with another person from a different platoon. He said when he went into the lunch room, one of the ladies said “I know those marks on your head are not from a curling iron (lol, their heads are shaved), so how did you get that skint place?” Nate explained what happened and then the lady said, “Ya’ll are the most banged up, crippled up group I’ve ever seen in here” (some were limping or on crutches). Nate said most people he talked to said they had never heard of a platoon being pushed to the level that they were. Apparently, the infantry people get pushed a lot harder than those who sign up to be what Nate called “computer nerds”. The I.T. people apparently were allowed to have their cell phones on weekends and go to the store and were not pushed as hard physically, but out of the four platoons in his company, his received the most corrective training.

Nate also told us that they were limited as to how much food they could eat and he was always hungry. He lost about 20 pounds, including muscle, and he didn’t have that much extra weight to lose to begin with (needless to say, he pigged out during his 3 day pass, lol). He said there were times when he felt like quitting, but it’s like they wouldn’t let you quit, he said, because if you started talking about it, you were forced to do more push-ups, etc. Although some did quit, Nate pushed through. Nate has always been very strong physically and strong-willed, but I see him also developing more patience and self-control, becoming more teachable and moldable. It made me think of the scripture in Hebrews 12:11 which says: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV).

Our son has always wanted to be in the army and I think this was the Lord’s direction for him, but there is a process to becoming a soldier and it involves breaking; breaking down of the will and the tendency to operate as an individual and think primarily about one’s self and learning to operate instead as a team; learning that when you mess up, it affects and costs your whole team and that’s a lesson that people need to learn in the body of Christ also. We’re called to unity, to be one and when one person chooses to do what they want instead of what is right, it affects us all (the reputation of Christians as a whole, the corporate anointing, etc.).

We all have to go through things that break us so that we can become teachable and moldable. Not broken in spirit, but just like a person breaks a horse, you ride the horse until it becomes yielded to your will and willing to let you steer and guide it, control when it stops and goes, etc. That’s how the Lord uses trials in our lives to help break our wills (not crush our spirits), so we will become yielded to Him and this is a good thing, because He knows what is best for us.

I also thought about the scripture in II Timothy 2:3-4, which reads: 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (NIV). For those of us who are Christians, Jesus is our commanding officer, and our main goal is to please him and fulfill his call on our lives. He sees the big picture that we cannot see and just as the young men in the army had to endure corrective training, so they could learn to obey their commanding officers, so do we.

I have a whole new level of respect for soldiers, after hearing everything that my son and the other young men and women went through, and I feel like I’ve gleaned more insight about becoming a soldier of Jesus Christ, as I hope you all have too. God bless you all.

Kelly Rowe