Holdover dishes out holiday cheer, activity
It may not have been the Christmas some of them dreamed of – gray and wet, and far from the bosom of Family and friends – but the nearly 300 Soldiers held over at Fort Jackson through the holidays at least were busy.
They took in the lights at Riverbanks Zoo and Saluda Shoals Park. In the rain.
Those who dared – or who already knew how – tackled ice skating at the Plex complex in Irmo the day after Christmas, with varying degrees of success. One Soldier branded his attempt on the ice as “more terrifying” than rappelling down Victory Tower.
And, at a few specially arranged times, throngs of them did what every Soldier is good at:
And ate – mostly brown things: Meat. Potatoes. Chocolate.
“Some of them didn’t even eat anything (healthy),” said Staff Sgt. Adam Gamache, a drill sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment who shepherded the holdovers on a trip to Golden Corral on Dec. 29. “They just went to the dessert area and piled it on.”
Billeted at the recently renovated barracks of the 2-60th, the holdovers also had video games and movies at their disposal.
On the Sunday after Christmas, Soldiers bused to Charleston for a Stingrays hockey game and special dinner.
The following Wednesday, they traveled to Charlotte for a Hornets basketball game at which they presented the American flag pregame and shot free throws after the game had ended.
On Dec. 30, the Directorate of Family, Welfare, Morale and Recreation set up bouts of laser tag.
There they go and here they come ...
Many of Fort Jackson’s Soldiers in Training experienced their first instances of “Hurry up and wait” in the wee hours of the morning, lying or standing in line for hours to board buses leaving post and then waiting even longer for their flights home for the holidays – and their journeys back to training.
Fort Jackson began sending Soldiers home for Victory Block Leave by bus, train and plane Dec. 17 and 18. Basic Combat Training shut down until this past Sunday, giving drill sergeants time with their Families without worry about the details of the current training cycle.
Around the Army, that lapse in training is called exodus.
Fort Jackson calls it Victory Block Leave.
“I wish we didn’t have to go (on leave) because during basic training, you are transforming yourself from a civilian to a Soldier,” Pvt. Alexander Malkiewicz said before going home on leave. “You are kind of breaking away from what you are taught your whole life during that transformation process.”
Malkiewicz had completed three weeks of basic training.
“Going back to the civilian world kind of pushes you back a little bit (from your training),” Malkiewicz, from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, said as he rested outside the USO at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, awaiting his 5 p.m. flight to Los Angeles – a departure nearly seven hours away.
The long hours of waiting didn’t seem break Soldiers’ spirits.