Walk a mile in these boots — local Veterans offer guidance to new soldiers at Fort Jackson

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Soldiers at Fort Jackson who will graduate from basic training next Wednesday had the chance to sit down with local Veterans who have years of service under their belt.

According to Army officials, many of the Veterans served in the 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment — just like the basic training soldiers they sat down with Friday morning.

Retired 1st Sergeant Ed Hogue says the young soldiers have the opportunity to ask them anything they like and they’ll give an honest answer.

“They’re learning something, and the questions they ask are important questions, and if I can answer that and set them on the right path and a good path, it’s just a joy to me,” says Hogue.

He also says they’re asking the right questions.

“These young people here are asking every kind of question there is. ‘What’s it like when you go to your new unit?’ ‘What should I be looking forward to?’ They’ve not asked any of the stupid questions about the blood and guts of war. They’ve talked about ‘How was it in combat?’ ‘Are you proud to be a Veteran from that time frame?’ Those are the kind of questions they ask,” says Hogue.

PV2 Emoni Williams was recognized as the top soldier in her graduating class. She says speaking with the Veterans is inspirational.

“To talk to a Veteran, it feels very soothing. It builds my confidence up, so as of now I’m not afraid of anything, I’m not scared, I’m not nervous. Talking to a Veteran actually pushes me forward to do whatever I can possibly do,” says Williams.

Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jonathan Baker says he grew up hearing stories of service and adventure from his father, who is also a Veteran.

“So for the soldiers to have an opportunity to experience that if they didn’t have it in their own home, to give them a sense of appreciation and pride in their legacy from the great lineage of service to the nation that our country has. It’s also incredibly important for the Veterans to come and tell their story to feel as a part of this as they ever once were,” says Baker.

Hogue says he’s happy to share his knowledge and experience with the young soldiers, who he believes are the future of our country.

“Sitting there seeing them, it’s a joy, because that’s where we were a long time ago. I came in in ’68. I was 19. I didn’t know anything either. And I learned it over time,” Hogue says.

Categories: Local News, Midlands Military Matters, News