FORT HUACHUCA (KGUN9-TV) - When KGUN9 was invited to spend some time with airmen and soldiers at Fort Huachuca to experience what it's like to gather weather data in a combat environment, Cuyler Diggs and I jumped on the opportunity.
Little did we know we were about to experience, first-hand, what it's like to be in the middle of a battle zone. When we arrived, Cuyler and I were given full military gear, informed we would be issued guns, trained on how to use them, and yes, that we would be shot at, during a mock field training exercise.
Cuyler and I were partnered with two groups. Alpha and Bravo. We gathered in a tent, plotted our course of action, and we were off. Hiking what I thought would be a never ending up-hill climb, I gained a little more respect for these soldiers, with every step. I thought to myself, how far are we going, and just how does weather play a part in all this?
Army Sergeant First Class, Derek Brame, explains, "Weather is as important as the terrain you fight on. Trying to fight up hill is miserable. Trying to fight in the rain is equally miserable. Trying to drive your truck through heavy mud is nearly impossible. Understanding what the weather is currently, looking a couple days in the future, it changes how we fight."
And if forecasted wrong, it can be the difference between life and death. We began moving again, and I asked myself, where is Cuyler, and when will I know to start shooting? I was assured, we would know. And then it happened. Instantly I watched my sergeant get shot right in front of me, and found myself looking for any place to take shelter. With no time to think, I just began shooting at every enemy I could see in my path.
IEDs going off all around us, knowing I could get shot at any time, but comforted that I was flanked by soldiers willing to take a bullet for me. And then it was over. I was safe! They discussed what they did wrong, or could have done better, what they did well, and how they worked as a team. Cuyler and I listened and took it all in. I learned Cuyler had been shot in the leg. But he said nothing. Not one complaint. He took it like a champ. I was proud of him, as I realized how lucky I had been. And then I heard two words that sent a chill down the back of my spine... ROUND TWO! We re-grouped and executed another plan of action, another attack, and how we would do it even better and faster this time.
And just like that... More gunfire, more explosions. And somehow I managed to get through all of it, again, without getting shot. I had made it. And then I did the unthinkable. Before I could stop myself, I said... "I'm kind of disappointed I didn't get shot." Combat training 101... NEVER SAY I'M DISAPPOINTED I DIDNT' GET SHOT. Way to go Madison... I've now been volun-told to lead the charge for round three.
Knowing I had no chance of getting through this a third time without getting shot... I decided to go all in. I mean, I've got real life soldiers all around me. They get shot at with REAL bullets. How bad could paint-ball be, right? WRONG! It happened. A sharp hit to the thigh. Unable to mask the pain, I yelled out. Don't remember what I said, but pretty sure it was not pleasant. Knowing I probably couldn't handle another hit, my team protected me until all the enemies were taken out. I felt proud. Relieved. They saved me, just like they do each other in real combat, with real bullets. To say this was an experience of a life time, is putting it mildly.
It was exhausting, draining, mentally and physically. And the respect both Cuyler and I have for these soldiers grew even more. When asked if we would do it again... Absolutely!