Sunday, August 26, 2012

The 16th Infantry Takes to the Field!

AP Wire- Date Line Ft. Drum, NY.  March 20 1940

This morning the doughboys of New York's own 16th Infantry Regiment completed several days of field training exercises at Ft. Drum, NY, just a few miles south of the US-Canada border.  These field training exercises, known as FTXs to our doughboys, only seem to highlight the growing tensions between the United States of America and the British Empire.  

Doughboys from A Company, 16th Infantry
train with the newest tanks in America's arsenal.

The 16th Infantry Regiment, a component regiment of the 1st Infantry Division, normally stationed at Ft. Jay on Governors Island, was moved to Ft. Drum two weeks ago for additional training and to ensure that New York's borders are safe from any British or Canadian incursions.  

Doughboys of B Company rush a defended ruin while their
squad mates lay down suppressing fire!

Only months ago the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, like every other unit in the US Army, was just a skeleton of a unit having only four platoons organized into two small companies.  However with the possibility of war growing daily the US has drafted hundreds of thousands of young American men for national service.    Now the old hands of the 16th, in the tradition of their regiment's motto: Semper Paratus (Always Ready), have set about working to prepare the raw recruits for war, if it happens.

A MG squad operate their weapon under
the watchful eye of their commander, Lt. Colonel William Ekert.

Among the tactics that our young soldiers are learning is how to work with the newest engines of modern warfare:  the tank!  Many experts say that the tank is going to be a permanent fixture of the battlefields of the future, and that the infantry have little choice but to learn how to work with these armored behemoths if they wish to prevale.  Now the doughboys of the 16th are getting their chance to work with latest tank in America's arsenal: the M3 Light Tank.  

Team work!  M3 Light tanks and infantry in action

"The thing is," says Colonel William Ekert of Billings, Montana, "that we have so many new guys in the outfit and a lot of new weapons and gear to break in.  Hell, many of the old boys who were in the World War have never seen a real tank up close, let alone train with one. We NEED all the training time we can get! God only knows when, or even if, the balloon will go up.  Regardless, we HAVE to be ready no matter what!"

Fire and maneuver!  C Company practices
assault drills in the fields of Ft. Drum.

When asked how the men are reacting to all this extra training time Colonel Ekert said, "There is a real sense of urgency in these exercises.  In years past FTXs were seen as an annoying break-up of the normal barracks life to a lot of the men.  But this is different and the boys know it!  War can come at any time! And this war won't be in some god-forsaken field in Europe.  It's gonna be right here in our own backyards.  They call us (the 16th Infantry Regiment) "New York's Own" and it really could be up to us to keep the good folks of The Empire State safe."

While everyone here at Ft. Drum prays that the diplomats will come to a peaceful solution to the crisis between the two nations it's quite clear that all have resigned themselves to the possibility, no matter how remote, that war could be just around the corner.  

In the next article of our series we leave Ft. Drum and join the bluejackets on board the battleship USS Arizona as they ward our nation's shores.  

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