MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
High school students dressed in blue and black uniforms rolled up to the front gate of the Combat Center in three yellow buses, chattering loudly and pointing to static displays and Marines as they proceeded on base.
Students from the Summit Leadership Academy High Desert visited the Combat Center April 9 to learn military-based details about one of three prospective career paths they chose: fire fighting, law enforcement and military.
Each group of students took a bus to their respective locations, where subject matter experts briefed them on gear, weapons and duties required of everyone in that field.
The fire fighting group visited the fire station, where they had the opportunity to put out a controlled fire with a fire hose. They were also briefed on equipment on the fire truck, fire fighting hazardous materials and other gear.
The law enforcement group visited the Provost Marshal’s Office, where they saw static displays of weapons, gear and equipment. The Special Reactions Team spoke to the students about land navigation, staying in shape, and how to get into the SRT.
The military group of students visited the Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer. The VCCT is a simulated humvee in a trailer, surrounded by a 360 degree laser-sensitive screen. The students used M-16A2 service rifles, .50-caliber machine guns and M240 machine guns modified to connect to the compressed air canisters and computers of the simulator.
After each group finished their section briefings, they met at Phelps Hall, where they ate lunch.
After eating, the students gathered outside, where the story of Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps, the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Marine which the chow hall is named after, was revealed to them.
The students then made their way to Felix Field, where PMO gave them a brief and demonstration of how K-9 military working dogs are trained.
The students cheered loudly as a Cpl. Carlos Santiago, a Marine with the military working dog team, put the hard sleeve armor on his right arm took off running with one of the dogs chasing close behind him. As the dog lept up and bit Santiago’s armored arm, the students erupted with cheers and laughter.
Amir Awad, the 18-year-old class sergeant, said the day’s events have intensified his aspiration to become a San Bernardino County sheriff.
“I already wanted to join the Marines before I came out,” said Awad about the base tour. “But that made me think ‘I’m going!’”
Awad added that during his time at the academy, he has learned vital leadership skills he will need as a deputy sheriff, like maintaining order.
Ashley Evans, a 17-year-old special team squad leader of the color guard and drill team, agreed.
Evans said the experience she has gained from the academy and from her position as a squad leader will serve her for years to come.
“For the most part, it (the academy) instills a sense of honor, snaps you into shape and makes you respect other people,” said Evans, a Victorville native. “And it’s great for team work.”
Awad, also a Victorville native, said he would like to thank all personnel who made the tour possible, and for providing the students with the opportunity to see how things are run in the Marine Corps and in law enforcement.
To learn more about the academy, visit their Web site, www.slahd.com.