Students live life as a soldier at Fort Meade

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The sounds of military cadences and marching footsteps could be heard at Fort Meade as over 1,000 middle school students learned what life is like as a soldier.

Students put their skills to the test by running through obstacle courses, conditioning and learning how to throw grenades. Eighth grade student Tatum Littemberg from Sturgis Williams Middle School practiced target shooting and said it was the first time she had shot a gun.

“I have never shot a gun,” Littemberg said. “There’s definitely people who have hunted before and had more experience with it but it’s cool … for me, who has never done it before."

Another eighth grade student from Sturgis Williams, Evan Johnson, said the life of a soldier wasn’t what he expected.

“Throwing a grenade is not easy,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of steps to go through - to just even walk. We have to line up; we have to follow commands and stuff.”

This is the fifth year the event has been held in honor of Veterans Day. Sturgis Williams was the first school to participate in the event, but it quickly grew - now with Newell and Spearfish schools also participating. Retired Lt. Col. Wyatt Hansen said that seeing the students participating means a lot to him as a veteran.

“They enjoy being active and learning the things that are associated with veterans,” Hansen said. “And the schools appreciate it and we as soldiers appreciate it. We’re all veterans and it’s good to teach the students what it means to be a veteran and give them appreciation for that.”

The South Dakota National Guard currently has over 3,100 soldiers devoting their lives to the safety of the United States.

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