More than 120 men and women from 12 states, are training this week in East Lyme to become officers in the U.S. Army National Guard.
Phase one of the program started on July 14. It tests the officer candidates both mentally and physically over a two-week period. One of the most challenging obstacles for them is land navigation.
There are five points hidden deep in the woods that they have five hours to find. They’ll be tested on Friday and if they don’t pass they have one more chance on Saturday. If they fail Saturday they are cut from the program.
“It is certainly a challenge. One of the hardest things I’ve attempted before,” said Zachary Flashmin, an officer candidate from Monroe, CT who previously served four years of active duty in the army. “It takes a lot of independence and physical endurance to find your points in the woods.”
If the candidates pass phase one, they will continue on to phase two, which involves drill weekends each month through next summer. Phase three involves another two-week block of training. If the candidate makes it, they will graduate next summer.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to pass our knowledge on to the future of our army. These are the future leaders that we’re putting out onto the battlefield and they are the ones that are going to make sure this nation remains a free country,” said U.S. Army Major Zachariah Fike.