WKYT - Richmond - Headlines

Ky. becomes last stop for soldiers headed to Afghanistan

By: Gabriel Roxas Email
By: Gabriel Roxas Email

Afghanistan isn't in the news every day, and some may need to be reminded that the United States is still very much a nation at war.

In fact Americans continue to make sacrifices every day even as more prepare to join the fight.

In a rare look behind the scenes, WKYT followed along with one Army company at the Blue Grass Army Depot as the soldiers completed their final training before going to war.

Soldiers with the 351st Ordnance Company have a saying: you can last five days without food, two days without water, and two seconds without ammunition. The mission of these soldiers is to ensure the United States maintains supreme firepower, and long before their munitions destroy anything, a lot of care will go into their preparation.

Like every other soldier in her company, Private First Class Allanah Kurtz had to learn how to drive a Humvee under severe circumstances to transport soldiers to and from ammunition sites. "I got into the army because it's something I always wanted to do ever since I was nine years old," Kurtz said.

This is the last training these soldiers must complete before deploying to Afghanistan. All will tell you they're eager to enter a combat environment, but each one knows the risks. Kurtz is one of several soldiers in the 351st who will be deploying for the first time. "I try not to think about it too much," Kurtz said, "I just, I want to go over there, do what I'm supposed to do, and come home safe and sound with all my friends that I went over there with."

PFC Nathan Hardy has spent almost two years preparing for his first deployment. "It just feels good being able to go over and be part of something," Hardy said.

For Hardy, the biggest challenge was telling his girlfriend he's leaving for nine months. "That was probably the hardest one," he said laughing, "That was probably the hardest one, so yeah, she's not happy about it."

As they learn to move munitions throughout the supply chain, the first-timers work side-by-side with seasoned professionals like Specialist Jesse Henline. "It's in my blood," Henline said of his military heritage, "My whole family was a service member."

A 17-year veteran in the Army, Henline has already had three deployments with this unit. "Once you become part of a bigger family, you can't leave it," Henline said.

For First Lieutenant Brandon Boggs, this is the last step in training the total soldier. "It's interesting 'cause you can take a young soldier like Kurtz or Hardy, and you can see them grow," Boggs said.

Those under his command insist that they feel well-prepared, and they want the American people to have confidence in the mission ahead. "I would probably just want them to know that we work hard for what we do. We do this for them, so they can have the lives that they're living," Kurtz said.

The United States currently has about 91,000 troops in Afghanistan.

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