Five Soldiers attending the U.S. Army Prime Power School’s Power Line Distribution Course here demonstrated knowledge gained over the past 10 weeks during a Lineman’s Rodeo competition Tuesday.
The Soldiers, who graduate the course Friday, completed four graded tasks at the rodeo that required them to climb wooden poles and perform their duties from 40 feet above the ground.
One of the course participants, Sgt. Kyle Nestler – who will move to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, after graduation – said he looks forward to using his new skills to participate in the national response framework.
“I am excited to be able to respond to natural disasters and other situations causing power outages,” said Nestler, who completed this course here in addition to the Prime Power Production Specialist course for his 12P military occupational specialty. “I want to get everything I can out of this field. I have loved every bit of learning through the 12P school and wanted to further that knowledge by delving into distribution – without that there is no point in generating power.”
Sgt. Batkholboo Batsuuri is also heading to Fort Belvoir after graduation. He said he enjoyed the mental and physical challenges of the course and rodeo.
“I always like to learn new skills,” he said. “Climbing in general was my favorite part. It’s fun and requires critical thinking and fast movement.”
According to PLDC Senior Instructor Sgt. 1st Class Richard Ross, everyone worked “incredibly hard” to meet all course expectations while also remaining cognizant of COVID-19 risk-mitigation protocols.
“Fortunately, 80 percent of the course is conducted outdoors – hands on – where the work is,” he said. “So, we had minimal issues. Any time that social distancing was not possible, the students would wear masks. We sanitized the common areas and workstations, to include the classroom twice a day.”
Ross said USAPPS trains an average of 55 students a year. In addition to the 12P and distribution courses, three additional skills identifier courses are also taught here – for electricians, instrumentation technicians and mechanics – along with the 12Q Army Reservist course and a separate Advanced Leader Course for Soldiers being promoted to staff sergeant.
The courses involve academic subjects such as mathematics, physics, electrical and mechanical engineering – taught by adjunct professors from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.
“What makes this school unique is that we don’t teach specific equipment, but rather the theory and practice,” Ross said. “This enables the students to be able to go anywhere in the world and work on various medium-voltage systems because they understand the theory, systems and hazards of the work. We also stay relevant and current with industry standards.”
Nestler said he learned a lot while at Fort Leonard Wood, but he feels the competition with the other students at the rodeo is an especially important piece of the puzzle.
“Everyone was pushing each other to be the best lineman,” he said. “I love competition, because good competition breeds excellence.”
The graduation ceremony tomorrow will be an outdoor event with seating that’s fitting for the lineman profession as well as social distancing.
“My instructors have cut up utility poles in 18-inch sections for seats and we will be spacing them out,” Ross said. “The uniform for the students and instructors will be our lineman uniforms to include our gloves – masks will be worn so we can shake their hands and congratulate them properly for the countless hours of hard work and dedication in learning a dangerous and complex trade.”