Army recruits spend long days of work and study at Aberdeen Students seem undaunted by schedule and workload

November 09, 1996|By Jay Apperson and Dan Thanh Dang | Jay Apperson and Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The recruits who attend the U.S. Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Ground are not part of the glamour of Army life, driving the tanks and flying the helicopters that star in recruitment videos.

They are part of the support units that make sure the Army runs efficiently -- units that repair the small arms, the trucks and the generators used by the fighting force.

They rise at 4 a.m. with a sharp wake-up call.

When school begins, they either go to school or to a work detail that could include everything from raking leaves to typing memos and other paperwork. After a break for chow at 11 a.m., they go back to school at 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.

After being called into formation one last time at 5: 20 p.m., their day finally ends around 5: 30 p.m.

Each weekday evening, they have quiet hour from 8: 30 to 9: 30 p.m., and then lights out.

If everything works out, after a month they can earn weekend passes -- allowing them to travel off the base and wear civilian clothes.

But students interviewed this week said they haven't found the routine too strenuous.

"We just came out of basic [training] two weeks ago, and this is nothing. This is so relaxed," said Pvt. Matt Wallace of Temperance, Mich., a mechanic.

As the sexual misconduct investigation continues at the school, officials said they are trying to maintain normal routines as much as possible.

Yesterday, classes continued, and after lunch, about 100 young soldiers from Alpha Company, wearing black rain jackets over their fatigues, fell into formation in a parking lot outside their barracks.

A drill instructor shouted: "Company." The recruits responded in unison: "All fired up, all fired up, drill sergeant."

One by one, the lines of soldiers shouted out: "Senior drill sergeant, 1st Platoon on attack, sir!" Later, they shouted, "Let's go to school!"

Then they marched off to class, with drill instructors at their heels.

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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