Learning how to become a selfless soldier – Addy Albershardt
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past couple of years of being in the Army, it has been coping with the selfless acts giving up my comforts of living to assimilate in a culture driven by service. The Army teaches you sacrifice from the minute you join. When I took my oath to become a Commissioned Officer I entered a profession to serve others and lead soldiers in combat.
I have just completed 5 months of training at the Armor Basic Officer’s Leader’s Course (ABOLC). This is our initial training to be qualified to lead soldiers in the Armor Branch. Some of my peers will graduate from this course next week and deploy with their assigned units to the Middle East. For me, I will continue to train at FT Benning, GA, as my unit requires additional training schools to become qualified in. I will report to my assigned unit: FT Lewis, WA sometime next summer.
On the topic of sacrifice, there are many aspects in this profession that the general population may not consider what soldiers endure. The past 5 weeks I have been in the field in the middle of nowhere Georgia, and running training missions to simulate “war”. I’ve been sleep deprived, ate MREs for each meal of the day, had little connection to the outside world and lived in close quarters with many personalities, having no choice but to get along. This is just a typical day for most combat arms soldiers.
Sleep is probably the hardest topic. Soldier or not, everyone loves to sleep, but we work much longer than the 9 am to 5 pm job. 20-hour days are typical for us. When we do get to sleep, we sleep on top of HMMWV’s or on top of the tanks, so it’s not the most comfortable “bed”. We don’t sleep on the ground to avoid anyone from getting run over. We do not shower, so baby wipes become your best friend. You just learn to deal with smelling like an ogre and you know that everyone else is in the same situation.
If it’s raining or sunshine, hot or cold we are still training and still in the elements 24-7. We did get to go inside when Hurricane Michael hit Georgia, but that did not hinder us from still training.
When in the field a typical day looks like this:
- 0400 Wake up
- 0500 Personal hygiene / eat breakfast (which is usually just crackers and peanut butter for me from my MRE)
- 0600 Prepare for the first mission of the day
- 0700-1100 Conduct mission
- 1200- MRE for lunch and discuss learning points from mission
- 1300- Refuel vehicles and prepare for the next mission
- 1500-1800 Conduct the second mission of the day
- 1800- MRE dinner and discuss learning points from the second mission
- 1900-2100- Refuel vehicles and conduct maintenance. This is the best part of the day when you can relax a bit and joke around with peers.
- 2100-0300- Sleep cycle begins; we have to pull security shifts through the night to make sure we don’t get “attacked,” but every night we get attacked. The instructors wait to see how we respond to getting attacked. This usually lasts 1-2 hours.
- 0400- It’s a new day, repeat it again and again.
I can’t say all of the above is fun, and something to be ecstatic about; you learn to endure through the difficult parts, just like you endure through the next race, the next interval, or the next climb. We learn to endure tough conditions because combat will be even more demanding and arduous. Through all the suffering of training in the field, being in the Army is the most rewarding job. Not only am I challenged when I lead difficult missions and learn from my mistakes, but I am surrounded everyday from people all over the nation.
Each one of them has a story to why they joined the Army. Many of my peers are incredibly gifted and intelligent. Sometimes personalities clash, sometimes personalities gel really well, but no matter what, we all have a common understanding that the mission comes first. I have seen the most beautiful examples of teams getting over their differences to accomplish the mission and that’s something I’d really love to share with the cycling world one day when my time in the service is over.
The biggest question I get from friends is “do you still ride your bike?” My answer: absolutely I do! There’s much I had to give up in cycling; I don’t ride as much as I’d like to, and I often have long periods of time in between when I can ride because of Army training. This is probably the hardest challenge I’ve had to overcome with giving up the lifestyle of a bike racer to learn how to become a more selfless soldier. Cycling will always be a part of my life and I enjoy each day I get the chance to ride my bike; it’s truly a gift to ride!
After this course, I will be going to Army Reconnaissance Course (ARC), then Stryker’s Leaders Course, and then Ranger School. I get 1 week of resetting my gear and graduate from ABOLC before going back out into the field to learn how to lead scout missions. Of course, my ultimate challenge is preparing my mind and body for Ranger School this February. If I complete that course, it will be my “Olympic Gold Medal.” Thank you to everyone who follows and supports me!
By Addy Albershardt
Courtesy TWENTY20 presented by Sho-Air Team
80% of the team members of TWENTY20 presented by Sho-Air are from military families and they are proud to support the goals and culture of Mission 43. Mission43 is a partnership of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and three premier veterans organizations designed to give currently serving the military, former military, and military spouses in Idaho, the 43rd state, the resources for a successful transition after leaving the service. By bringing together these world-class organizations, Idaho’s post-9/11 servicemen, women, and their spouses have the resources to excel academically, in their next career, and in the community.