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Crystal Lake South students get hands-on experience at Army event

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 12:16 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 11:38 p.m. CDT
(Jim Dallke - jdallke@shawmedia.com)
Crystal Lake Recruiting Center Srgt. Thomas Kolanko shows Crystal Lake South student Megan Avella, 18, how to use the shooting simulator aboard the Adventure Semi 1 truck.
(Jim Dallke — jdallke@shawmedia.com)
Crystal Lake South students take part in army simulation exercises aboard Adventure Semi 1 truck, a recruiting tool for the Army.

CRYSTAL LAKE – In the cockpit of an Apache helicopter simulator Wednesday morning, Christian Goodsell got a glimpse into his future.

The 18-year-old Crystal Lake South senior plans to enter the Army after graduation, but before he ever straps on a boot or gets a high and tight haircut, he and his fellow classmates participated in a variety of Army simulations aboard the Adventure Semi 1 truck.

The truck, originally based in Kentucky and brought to campus by the Army Marketing and Research Group, was loaded with a tank simulator, an unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator Drone simulator, a bomb robot, and an 180-degree sensory experience of being inside a helicopter.

"I haven't seen anything like this," Goodsell said. "I want to be a sniper, so this is something I've been looking in to. This is amazing for me. It shows a lot more than you would normally see."

There are six Adventure Semi's that travel the United States. The truck operators, and sergeants from the Crystal Lake Recruiting Center, were on hand to encourage students to consider the Army upon graduation.

"[The truck] is an asset used as a tool to connect the American people with American soldiers," said Sgt. First Class Joseph Burgess, one of the truck operators. "They get the opportunity to talk to soldiers and ask any question they have."

With a troop drawdown underway, the focus Wednesday was recruiting students to the Army Reserve, allowing them to attend college now and then enter the Army if needed, Burgess said. The hands-on simulation students experienced Wednesday was a good representation of the type of work they would be doing if called upon in the Army, he added.

"A lot of the jobs are getting more and more high-tech," Burgess said. "We're doing a lot of cyber stuff. We're doing a lot of intelligence, a lot of special operations forces. … We're going to a more elite, smaller, faster, smarter force."

After the Adventure 1 truck spent the day at Crystal Lake South, it plans to visit Woodstock North High School on Thursday and Cary-Grove High School on Friday. Burgess said there is no set number of students the Army is looking to recruit.

"Of course we want as many people to come through as possible and have a positive experience about the Army while on the truck," he said. "But the biggest thing is just making impressions."

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