Episode 3: Courtney
Courtney is happy making money as a waitress, but she has bigger goals for her life – will the Army factor into them?
The show you are watching is real. These people are not actors. You will follow a potential Army recruit with a backstage pass as they learn about Army life, careers and themselves. At the end, they’ll make a life-changing decision. Join the Army or remain a civilian. This recruit’s journey starts now.
An Army on the ground has to defend against attack from the air. That’s the vital mission of the Air Defense Artillery. These combat arms specialize in anti-aircraft weapons, like the Patriot and Stinger missiles, and the Avenger air-defense system. One young woman thinking about Army service will get a chance to see if she can measure up.
My name’s Courtney Strange, I’m 22 years old and I’m from Columbia, Maryland. My husband and I just got married and we’re still newlyweds, and you know, enjoying our youth and being freshly married.
So, how would you feel if I joined the Army?
You know it’s not something I’m absolutely happy about.
War is unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen.
Meet Sergeant First Class James A. Gill. He’s a 13-year airborne veteran who’s seen action in two tours in Iraq.
This is Courtney Strange, she’s going to be spending the next few days with us to experience what it’s like to be an air defender. Are you ready to see if you have what it takes to be a 14 Sierra?
Yes, I’m very excited.
Courtney’s training begins with an introduction to the 14 Sierra’s primary weapon. The Avenger air-defense system fires stinger missiles from two gyro-stabilized pods on a modified Humvee. It can take down airborne threats including helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and even cruise missiles. Courtney’s getting a taste of the Army training that turns out the world’s best air-defense artillery crews.
I never knew how sophisticated this MOS was.
Hit. Great job.
For her first training exercise, Courtney’s unit is convoying into a forward area.
This training exercise, basically what she’s doing is defending the city from hostile aircraft.
Alright, you hear it coming?
Yeah, I hear something.
Keep searching. Coming from over here. Keep searching, keep searching. Right there. What is it? Identify it.
For training purposes only, we have identified UH 60 Blackhawks as hostile.
Get on him, uncaged, stay on him.
Fly by two. Miss.
The missile was never activated.
I’m the one in control of the Avenger, so if I miss, you know, it could be the end of my entire unit.
Alright guys, we’ve completed this morning’s training mission. It didn’t go so well, so what we’re gonna do is gonna take the opportunity to get some [inaudible] PTI in the field.
Get ‘em up. We’re gonna go down and up, ready? Arms extended. Down. Up. Down. Up. Up. Hold it up. I hear an aircraft. What are you gonna do?
First thing you’re supposed to do is identify if it’s hostile or friendly.
What’s the next thing you’re gonna do?
You engage your missile.
You engage your missile?
Or you call…I don’t know.
Oh, five more. [Inaudible] Next side. One, two.
Sergeant Gill is using PT not just to reinforce training but to teach Courtney a valuable lesson about responsibility to her fellow Soldiers.
Here you go, hold it up. Talk to me now. Alright, we’re here at aircraft. What do you do?
Identify friendly or foe.
Activate your missile.
Continue tracking the aircraft, make sure you hit it, and get confirmation.
Why’d you have such a hard time remembering earlier?
Maybe your battle buddy didn’t teach you good enough, right?
No, he did a great job. It was all on me.
It’s time for Courtney’s final training exercise — a full-scale realistic mission using the mock city of Regensburg. In this scenario, Courtney’s air defense unit moves in to defend a town from air attack.
Keep your eyes open. Tell me what you see. Call main, tell him we’ve just got blocked off on the side of the road.
Stryker main, this is Assassin 6, regarding ---
Sergeant Gill is hit! Sergeant Gill is hit!
Get him to safety! Get him to safety!
When the gunfire started to happen, it was really frightening for me, I panicked, I kind of froze.
Get him to safety!
Hurry up! Get him back there!
When I realized there was a gunshot wound, I immediately grabbed for the medical pack, and so at that point, all my training did come into action.
Cover it up now. Sir, can you hear me? Alright, I’ve got him covered. How long for the medi vac?
Around the corner.
Get him in there. Get back in the vehicle. Ready to roll out.
Courtney, you’ve had a pretty exciting few days. You got to test drive the Army. But now it’s time to make your final decision. So would you like to join the U.S. Army or remain a civilian?
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