Fort Knox, Kentucky

GEARed UP for the Military!

Students from Sebastian Middle School and Breathitt County High School embarked on a day-long adventure that took them to Fort Knox which is a United States Army Military Post near Louisville, Kentucky.

After attendance was taken, the bus picked up the students and chaperones and so began a twelve-hour day. Once at the military base, John Campbell, the Fort Knox Public Affairs & Community Relations Officer, met the group at the Chaffee Gate Welcome Center and took them immediately to the on-base dining facility. During lunch, students were able to eat alongside soldiers and learned that the “mess hall” wasn’t a pitched tent with a grill but actually looked like any other cafeteria one might find on a college or school campus. The facility was a buffet-style layout and students (and soldiers) were welcomed to eat their fill with one rule only: eat what you have first and then come back.

The first stop after lunch was at the Transportation Motor Pool (part of US Army's 100th Division) where students were able to witness a demonstration of the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT). This truck has the capacity to haul one hundred thousand pounds of cargo which can be locked and loaded in place via a system of hydraulics in a matter of five minutes! Should there be an emergency situation where they cannot allow the vehicle to remain still for the entire five minutes, they can begin moving once the hydraulic arms have locked onto the container. It was a massive piece of machinery that the students were excited to explore.

The second stop for the students was the 703D Ordnance Company of the 184th Ordnance Battalion which is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. The group was broken down in to four groups and rotated through several stations: a lesson on what those out in the field experience as they don the bomb suit and attempt physical activity, working the controls of robotic retrieval machines as they picked up explosive devices lying in the practice yard, and safely defusing a “bomb” using a pipe wrench, packing tape, and a rope.

The third stop was at The General George Patton Museum. The museum provided student with a first-hand look at the General’s decorated career and the opportunity to learn about leadership through his many quotations, videos, speeches, and historical actions, especially during World War II.

The last activity of the day included a driving tour of the military base where Mr. Campbell pointed out the on-base housing, schools, and recreational facilities. He emphasized the importance of being diligent in school and doing well on the ASVAB as it is used as a guide to help steer soldiers toward specific careers while serving in the military. Another point he made was the opportunity all enlisted personnel have to earn college degrees while serving their country, most often either at much-discounted tuition rates or for free. Before leaving the group at the Welcome Center, Mr. Campbell issued an invitation to re-visit the base in the future and his hope that all had a wonderful day.

The GEAR UP Academic Specialists, Paula Clemons-Combs and Alonzo Fugate, would like to thank the following chaperones for coming with the students: Sergeant First Class (Retired) Darren Iacono, Paul Hale, and Tara Beth Hall.

GEAR UP is a partnership grant with Berea College.