The young men and women attending the mega-Future Soldier event were excited as they gathered at Goode-Connell Park in Harker Heights on Saturday because they knew they were about to meet two mayors for the first time.
“I think it’s very generous of them to take the time out of their day to come and speak to us. I’ve never met the mayors before, and I never knew they had served in the military,” said Johnathan King, a future soldier from the Harker Heights Recruiting Station.
Both Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra, a former 1st Cavalry Division veteran, and Harker Heights Mayor Spencer Smith, a Marine Corps veteran aviator, shared how their military experiences helped shape them for the better along with words of encouragement and gratitude for joining the military.
“When I see these future soldiers, it fills me with a lot of pride,” Segarra said. “It brings back memories because I went through this same process. Seeing a lot of young people here, you can tell on their faces they don’t know what’s ahead, but they are willing to take that step towards their future. I just want to congratulate them on what they are doing — wanting to serve this country.”
Killeen Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick, a board of governors member for the Association of the United States Army Fort Hood Chapter Fernando Fernandez, and Killeen Independent School District’s chief college, career and military readiness officer Nancy Duran were also present during the event.
After the meeting, the future soldiers gathered for a group photo and then went off to participate in activities such as football, soccer, horseshoes, and a dunking booth.
As a means of preparing new recruits for basic training, future soldiers functions are a pivotal part in ensuring physical and mental wellbeing.
Events are usually held regularly with recruiting centers or company levels in the local area.
A mega-Future Soldier event, however, is a large endeavor requiring a lot of coordination efforts between recruiting personnel and the proper offices and individuals to ensure that the tours, briefings and transportation for Future Soldiers and special guests, and all other details run with military precision.
“This event is a great learning experience for these future soldiers. I’m very proud of them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Javier Zuniga, Harker Heights Recruiting Center Station commander. “But we also want them to know that we have their back and everyone else out here is supporting them.”