News: Over the river and through the woods to Uncle Sam's camp we go
Story by Spc. Anthony Zane
CAMP JOHNSON, Vt. – Vermont is well known not only for its rich maple syrup but also its vast beautiful mountains, formidable lakes, storybook rivers, and its sprawling forests laden with a variety of wildlife. A territory such as this provides the military with just the right diversity of terrain to create an optimal training ground for Soldiers.
While Spring and Winter continue to battle for seniority, it is all too clear that Winter is beginning to lose its fight.
The 94th Military Police Company from Londonderry, New Hampshire geared-up and set out for an exciting three-day field training exercise at Camp Johnson in the heart of Vermont, May 16-18, to prepare an upcoming two-week annual training at the National Training Center in California.
Traveling from New Hampshire to Vermont, the massive convoy of humvees presented a formidable and almost intimidating site against the contrast of countryside along the quiet New England highways.
“Our mission was to occupy Forward Operating Base Denver,” said Sgt. Michael Lydon, MP Co., 2nd Platoon, a native of Boston. “The other platoons were to clear the route first, set up an outer cordon, and our mission was to clear the FOB itself by making sure there were no improvised explosive devices and that there were no troops in the area so the rest of the company could move into the area of operation in order to secure it to set up our operation.”
Though the Soldiers were briefed on the scenario they had no idea when or to what extent an ensuing battle would occur. For the newest Soldiers in the unit, this was their first experience of this kind.
“It was really good for the newer Soldiers to get involved physically instead of just being in the drill hall and going over a scenario in a book,” said Lydon. “They were actually out in the field working the mission and experiencing what it’s like to be up on a truck and to shoot and communicate while it’s moving.”
With the help of props such as pyrotechnics, blank rounds, and paintballs incorporated throughout the training created a more realistic combat environment for the Soldiers.
The blank rounds would go off first so the Soldiers knew they were being shot at and to take cover, said Lydon. Then the element of using paintballs enhanced the realism of the exercise even more.
With simulated IEDs exploding around them and the sounds of blank rounds coupled with paintballs flying over their heads, the adrenaline kicked in but the Soldiers continued mission reacting and shooting back at the enemy.
Let’s just say their knees were shaking, said Spc. David Bergeron Jr., 94th MP Co, 2nd Platoon, a Providence, R.I. resident. They loved it and they were really excited to be out there.
It wasn’t just the added special effects of explosions, smoke and paintballs that got the Soldier’s blood pumping during the training; it was the terrain as well. For Bergeron the best of the training was driving through the ‘pond.’
“On our lane there was a huge puddle, if you can call it a puddle, but we were basically almost up to the top of our hood in water,” said Bergeron.
For Bergeron driving through the ‘pond’ and experiencing a different side of driving a Humvee created another layer of realism.
“Honestly, it was some of the best training I’ve had since I joined the military, and I’ve been in since 2007,” said Bergeron.
The experience and impact this training had on the 94th MP Co. Soldiers may just leave a fingerprint of knowledge that will serve them well in a real life combat situation.
I thought the training was very impressive, said Lydon. And it really helped to sustain our training so that we are better prepared for our upcoming mission at the NTC in California.
Sometimes traveling over the river and through the woods is not just about encountering a big bad wolf, there may also be a company of highly trained Soldiers ready for any challenge that comes their way.