Augusta in Army Boots gives civilians appreciation for soldiers

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February 23, 2007

FORT GORDON, Ga.---Community members traded business suits for combat fatigues at Augusta in Army Boots this week. Fort Gordon hosts the event, and this time our own Melissa Tune participated in the event.

It's realistic training--and it will give you a taste of what soldiers go through each day. The program gives you a greater appreciation of those who wear the uniform.

Fort Gordon now has a new group of second lieutenants. The group was promoted at "o-dark-hundred" at the end of this cycle of Augusta in Army Boots. 14 "citizen soldiers" got their new rank at this morning's ceremony.

Brigadier General Randy Strong's wife participated in the event. Gen. Strong promoted her, but he says she still outranks him.

"This is her first real opportunity to go to the field, and I looked out in the audience to see if she was tired and frowning, and I watched her smile," Gen. Strong said. "This is super."

For 24 hours, the group trained on military tactics, learned basic combat survival skills and ate meals in the field...all under the direction of expert soldiers from the 93rd Signal Brigade.

Paired up in buddy teams, the civilians bonded with their sponsors and made lifetime friends in the process.

"Let me tell you something: these young men and women are terrific," said Jeanie Hill of Augusta State University.

"I am really impressed with the community and how they work together," Cpt. Ulekeya Hill of the 93rd told News 12. "I am proud of them."

"She definitely leads from the front," Lt. Sharron Stewart said of News 12's Melissa Tune.

"Just what they go through, these ladies and gentlemen really go through a lot, and knowing how much they sacrifice, I don't think anybody has a greater appreciation, and it just means a lot," said Felicia Turner, principal of Lakeside Elementary.

Fort Gordon is perhaps the only installation in the country that has a program that welcomes such interaction with the community. It's just one of the reasons the fort is so popular here.

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