C/CPT Jake Stockton

This past summer was one of the most exciting times of my life. After I graduated from CLC (Cadet Leadership Course) at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Uncle Sam sent me to South Korea for additional training called CTLT (Cadet Troop Leading Training).  During this training I shadowed an active duty Lieutenant and learned hands on what it means to be an Army Officer. I was sent to D Co, 2-12CAV, 1ABCT, 1CD, which basically means that I was attached to a Tank Company called Destroyer Company.


Shortly after arriving to Korea, all CTLT Cadets were briefed by the 8th Army Commanding General and by the 8th Army Command Sergeant Major. To be inspired by two such important men was quite intimidating and influential, especially when realizing how important they are to the defense of South Korea. They warned us of the massive threat North Korea poses to South Korea. They told us that the North’s Artillery’s capabilities had the potential to wipe out everything form the DMZ as far south as Seoul, which is around 35 miles from the DMZ, within 48 hours. They made us realize just how important our efforts were in the region and how important it was for future 2nd Lieutenants to be physically and mentally ready for the unimaginable events to come.


            During this month long training experience, I got to see first-hand tank battle tactics and movements. At Rodriguez Range, I got to witness Gunnery. Basically gunnery is a lengthy and complex field exercise. Destroyer Company had some of the coolest things the Army could spare for gunnery from an Engineer attachment, Infantry attachment, and a Battalion.  They also even brought in aviation assets: Apaches, Kiowas, and Blackhawks. I got to experience tanks firing their 120mm canons and .50cal machine guns while Apaches and Kiowas were flying overhead firing rockets. It was one of my childhood dreams to watch all these big, giant things firing and for the explosions to take out the targets. This exercise was just a small demonstration of the might of the United States Army and let me tell you - it was an incredible sight to see. Not only did I get to see this, but I also got to shoot the Abram tank’s 120mm gun. The adrenaline rush from shooting this massive weapon and hitting the vehicle target at 1700 meters is a feeling like no other. Pulling the trigger was as simple as playing a video game, but it was so powerful that it jerked the whole 60 ton tank. I was grinning from ear to ear after I pulled the trigger and got confirmation that I hit the target.  However, working alongside my 1st Lieutenant and being able to get a taste of what my profession will be when I commission in less than a year was an experience I will forever be grateful for.


            Four years ago I would never have thought that a kid from Hernando, Mississippi would ever get to encounter something so incredible before I even commission as an 2nd Lieutenant. This adventure was like no other, from 6 to 7 mile runs through the mountains to working on tanks to shooting tanks.  Even though I was on a base in South Korea, I was still able to experience the country and culture surrounding South Korea.  I was able to go to the Korean War Museum in Seoul, eat unique food, such as eel in a Korean BBQ place, and walk through Itaewon, Seoul.  CTLT allowed me to see a part of the world most will never get to see and allow me to develop my knowledge of my profession. This experience will forever be one of my favorite adventures.  


Hail State and God Bless America.