By Spc. Angel Turner

1st Cavalry Division public affairs

With various military vehicles staged in their motor pool and an array of assault weapons on display, support company soldiers awaited the arrival of their special guests from Houston — potential future servicemen and women.

Troopers assigned to Echo Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, gave students from the Aldine Independent School District Leader Officer Trainer Corps summer program a glimpse of the Army life during a field trip to Fort Hood June 21.

"The LOTC program is a smaller version of the JROTC program," said Mario Rodriguez, a Leader Officer Trainer Corps instructor. "We teach kids the basics of the military but we also teach them about community service, how to be better citizens, and we like to teach them about the advanced technology in the military."

Rodriguez, who used to be a soldier at Fort Hood, felt it was important for the students to visit to give them real-world knowledge of the career they are interested in pursuing after high school.

"I left Fort Hood and the military in December of 2008 and I got this job," said Rodriguez. "When I left, the first thing I thought about was, 'I have to bring these kids to Fort Hood. They have to see a soldier's daily life. Sometimes kids believe only what they see in the movies. I wanted them to see (soldiers') daily routines — not just what we do during a deployment or in a field, but how they prepare."

LOTC cadets ranging from middle school to high school eagerly observed the displayed equipment to include the M-4 assault rifle, M-249 squad automatic weapon, Bradley fighting vehicles, tanks, a Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle and Humvees. They also observed soldiers doing maintenance on their vehicles — a critical component to effectively sustaining the equipment.

"We are showing the kids the military and what it's all about," said Sgt. 1st Class Antwan Smith, the maintenance control sergeant assigned to Echo company. "This gives them an idea what they can look forward to if they do decide to join the military. I think it is encouraging for them to see some of the equipment we use when we deploy and the actual weapons we use."

Smith, who has coordinated this event a few times in the past with Rodriguez, his former soldier, added, "As long as I'm still here and if I'm not deployed, I look forward to hosting something like this."

Following their visit to "Ghost" Battalion troopers' motor pool, soldiers ate lunch with the group of students, getting to know them a little more and sharing more information about their jobs.

To conclude the day of events, LOTC cadets visited the 1st Cavalry Division Museum, where they saw firsthand the vehicles troopers from past generations operated during our nation's previous wars.

Pfc. Benjamin Wurtz, a small arms artillery repairman with Echo Company, toured the museum with a group of young boys, answering their questions and reviewing the information placards present alongside each of the displayed vehicles.

"I feel very privileged," said Wurtz. "I'm giving children that really don't know much about the Army an open mind on what we do in real life. This is important because it shows them our history and how much we've progressed from then to now. Hopefully this inspires them to join the military and serve their country."

For Jose Munoz, one of the students, was on his second trip to Fort Hood.

"I feel lucky. A lot of people would like to do this but can't," he said. Munoz said his favorite part was seeing the weapons and that he wants to join the military.

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