This past weekend, the gates of Camp Ravenna were opened for a brief period for friends and family of the soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment for an Open House last Saturday. This was done so friends and family could experience what happens behind the gates of the camp and see what all it takes to be a soldier.   

Shortly before noon, the cars were starting to line up at the gate on Route 5 as friends and family members entered the facility. The folks parked their vehicles, boarded buses and were shuttled through the gate on State Route 534 to the training area of Camp Ravenna.  Upon arriving in the training area, visitors were immediately drawn toward he driving simulator and the tanks that were on display. Folks could get an inside view of the tanks and learn the difference between the different tanks. The driving simulator was similar to any driver’s education simulator only it offered a larger variety of vehicles for the adventurous to test “drive”, including tanks.

The soldiers also did demonstrations using a Bradley tank an Abrams tank and the Hercules recovery vehicle. They also offered tours of the tactical training tent and had all kinds of army vehicles from tanks to jeeps to trucks. The tour of the mobile kitchen led to displays of a variety of MRE’s (meals ready to eat), some used in teh U.S., some from Denmark or Germany. The soldier was neutral about whether they were good or bad but offered no samples for skeptics to taste-test.

There was also a display tent of weapons, ammunition and specialized  army gear. Plenty of soldiers were available to answer questions. Tank and humvee rides were offered as well.

One of the demonstrations we saw was particularly impressive. We watched a Bradley tank and crew respond to sniper fire. The occupants of the tank disembarked and defended their area as they approached the snipers. They were in two groups of four. One group would cover the other as they took turns advancing on the enemy. They would advance, drop and fire, get up while the other group covered them until the enemy was contained. They continued to drop, fire and cover while using smoke bomb diversions until they were all safely back inside the tank.  It was impressive to watch them work as a team to “defeat” the enemy.

Another drill they did was to demonstrate how they trained soldiers using the humvee simulator. The humvee is mounted on an arm that rotates the humvee to various angles including a rollover. The soldiers needed to figure out how to escape the rollover while they were in enemy territory. On the outside of the humvee was a live video, where one could see what was going on inside the vehicle as it was rotated and finally rolled over. One could see how the occupants were handling the situation and how they had to get out of their seatbelts and find a door they could open, all while assuming they were in a hostile region. It gave the visitors a taste of some of the training the soldiers go through to survive an actual rollover.

The tactical tent was where most of the intelligence and decision-making is focused in the field. The tent is a pop-up type tent made with two layers. It can withstand storms, wind and rain, including sandstorms. The tent comes with its own generator so they can power-up their computers to execute their plan of attack while communicate with those in the field and the intelligence back home.  The tactical tent is climate-controlled with heat and air conditioning available as needed. The tent is considered the “brain” center of any military operation in the field.

Our last stop on the tour was to see a fueling truck. This truck carried 2000 gallons of fuel. Specialist Amanda Alberta showed us how to fuel up vehicles and showed us all the safety gear a soldier was required to wear when fueling up vehicles.

It was a day for family members of soldiers to see and understand what a soldier must know and do to remain safe while serving their country.