Soldiers join infantry brotherhood
Story and photos by Spc. Eliamar Castañon/The Bayonet
FORT BENNING, Ga. (TRADOC News Service, Feb. 25, 2005) – The closer they got to the gravel walk of Honor Hill, the louder you could hear them shout.
The Soldiers of D Company, 1st Battalion, 329th Infantry Regiment, were inducted into the infantry brotherhood Feb. 22 after 13 weeks of infantry training.
Pfc. Jamie Padgett, 4th Platoon Soldier, started off on this final mission thinking it was going to be easy. But as he got closer to the end, he said he began to think about the buddies he was going to leave behind once it was over and, surprisingly enough, he said he is going to miss his drill sergeants.
“You see the hill, and you let loose,” Padgett said. “It was intense. We were screaming at the top of our lungs. We started off in training doing only four miles, and here we are doing a 12-mile roadmarch. The platoon did it together; we all pushed each other through it to the end. Now we’re infantrymen, and it was worth every bit of it.”
“Over the past weeks, the Soldiers achieved the standards required to be called infantrymen,” said 1st Sgt. Ben Adams, D Company first sergeant. “This is the step that transforms a Soldier from a civilian to an infantryman. They join the infantry brotherhood. Honor Hill is symbolic to their welcoming.”
Torches light the Soldiers’ path to the landing, where they are greeted by a U.S. flag with a bonfire on each side and unlit torches in front of it.
As the Soldiers fill their canteen cups with “grog” – usually a sports-drink concoction – they make a horseshoe formation around the flag as their drill sergeants light torches and talk about different battles.
The Soldiers learn that each torch represents the different American battles the infantry has fought gallantly and won, Adams said.
The last torch is lit by the company’s honor graduate. The final torch represents the battles of the future that the Soldiers will fight as infantrymen.
After lighting the torches and toasting the infantry, the Soldiers had their crossed rifles pinned by their drill sergeants. The crossed rifles are the symbol of the infantry, which represent the warrior spirit and the battle focus of the brigade and its mission.
For Pvt. Bob Body, the ceremony brought a feeling of camaraderie he had never experienced before. A former Marine, Body joined the Army after Sept. 11, 2001, and said this ceremony was the culmination of everything he had been working so hard for.
“It’s about time,” Body said. “This makes it all worthwhile.”
At the end
of the ceremony, Pvt. James Harrell, company honor graduate, took over
the formation as all the Soldiers recited the Infantryman’s Creed.
The company marched back to their company area, where they were greeted
by the Soldiers of E Company cheering them on.
Soldiers of D Company, 1st Battalion, 329th Infantry Regiment, take the last steps of their final field-training exercise Feb. 22 on Sand Hill, Fort Benning, Ga. The Soldiers were headed back to their company area after being officially inducted into the infantrymen's brotherhood through an Honor Hill ceremony.
Soldiers of D Company, 1st Battalion, 329th Infantry Regiment, receive their infantry crossed rifles from their drill sergeants as they are inducted into their new branch during an infantry brotherhood ceremony Feb. 22 at Fort Benning, Ga. The crossed infantry rifles are pinned on the new infantrymen to represent the warrior spirit as well as the battle focus and mission of the infantry training brigade that has been their home-away-from-home for the past 13 weeks of training.
Pvt. James Harrell, honor graduate of D Company, leads his comrades in reciting the Infantryman's Creed.
Drill sergeants of D Company join their Soldiers in their induction toasts. The seven torches represent battles in American history in which the infantry fought gallantly and won.