Regardless of their background, when people make the decision to join the elite 1 percent of the population serving their nation in the Armed Forces, they are joining a team. Whether they be a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine, there are commonalities in the camaraderie they experience.
Fort Leonard Wood’s primary mission is to develop competent leaders and warriors of character, who all take the same oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
This is what 12 trainees here had to say about what it means to be part of a team.
Pfc. D’Andre’ Barnes, from Tarboro, North Carolina
“Being part of a team, to me, means being the foundation for that team, not asking anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. Being disciplined and able to do what I need to do to make sure that team gets where it needs to be.”
Spc. Kimberly Perez, from Ashburn, Virginia.
“This is where I need to be; to be able to have the trust in the other person to do what they need to do and to have the integrity to do it right. The Army Values – I think that as I learned them, I knew this is something I want to be a part of: that leadership, the loyalty, the duty, respect, the honor. Those are all things that I’ve looked for in my life before and never truly found until I came here.”
Marine Pfc. Ashlynn Thompson, from St. Louis, Missouri.
“I come from a long line of military and I’d always heard before I joined that you’ll be closer with the people you went to boot camp with than the people you’d gone to school with your whole life. Nobody can really prepare you for how true that is, and that is something I’d been searching for my whole life – a really tight-knit family bond. It’s a lot of watching out for each other’s backs, making sure we’re fed, making sure we’re hydrated – we’re making the best calls we can for each other. Even if we don’t want to do it for ourselves, we push each other to always do what is right; what is best for each other.”
Air Force Airman 1st Class Albert Linbeck-Stanley, from Ragley, Louisiana.
“In my old career, I used to have to rely on myself. The difference between working construction back home and being in the Air Force is that we all work together, which makes lighter work. It’s nowhere near as difficult when everyone works together and knows their place in the bigger picture.”
Pvt. Deven Velazquez, from Boston, Massachusetts.
“Being part of a team means people who have your back night and day – people there to support you and who want to watch you grow and be your best.”
Pvt. Micaila Cooley, from Monticello, Indiana.
“Being on a team – and being a team leader – has taught me a lot about responsibility. In high school I was always on a sports team, but the Army has definitely given the word ‘team’ a bigger meaning for me. We all come here not knowing what to do, not knowing how to do it, and we learn how to do everything together – it’s like learning how to walk.”
Pvt. Allie Long, from Long Beach, California.
“Being part of a team is picking each other up. Especially going through basic training, there’s a lot of ups and downs and a lot of times when there are people who are weaker than the others – the strong help the weak get stronger.”
Pvt. Candis Jones, from West Palm Beach, Florida.
“It means you need to be able to put others before yourself – it’s not about being an individual anymore. You need to be able to respect each other and be able to take constructive criticism from other people just as they should take it from you.”
Marine Pfc. Kaleb Garrett, from Chicago, Illinois.
“You’re family – not necessarily blood, but here in the Marine Corps it’s like it’s closer than blood. I’ve run track, I’ve played basketball, football, but in the Marines it’s all that all at once. You meet a lot of different people from all over the country – some from other countries. I’m from Chicago; I grew up in the hood. I haven’t really been outside of the Midwest, and now I’m meeting people from different walks of life. It opens my eyes to see how I’m able to connect with people who are different from me and seeing how those who grew up differently – how they view me as well. Some of the weirdest people end up your greatest friends, or brothers and sisters.”
Air Force Airman 1st Class Shamorie Harris, from Quitman, Mississippi.
“Being part of a team means people having your back and in turn being able to help them out as well.”
Pvt. Zachary Davis, from Cut Bank, Montana.
“Being part of a team is always knowing the Soldiers to my left and right have my back. We live the Army Values – I’ll never be left behind, and they know I’m never going to leave them behind.”
Air Force Airman 1st Class Armonnie Bryant, from Albany, Georgia.
“When you’re on a team, you work to become a better ‘you’ and everyone grows together. Being able to have a shoulder to lean on, being able to hold your Wingman accountable and build a bond by getting to know them – you build that trust and you always have someone to rely on.”