FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - The Central Coast has a deep connection with the military.
“Twenty-eight years ago, six days out of high school, I showed up at Fort Ord to learn how to be a solider,” said Lt. Col. David Hills, 7th Infantry Division supply officer.
It was the beginning of the Gulf War, and hundreds of thousands of guards and reserve soldiers were activated. Hills watched the 7th Infantry Division train at his base and at Fort Hunter Liggett.
Fort Ord has since closed, but training continues.
This year, the 7th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army made its first return to Fort Hunter Liggett since 1994.
“We cover about 20 percent of the earth’s territory as far as replication, and because of its austerity and the places our services members may have to go, it’s a great training environment,” said Col. Kerry Norman, Fort Hunter Liggett commander.
The challenging terrain is one that tests the versatility of the men and women in service.
“We are used to Yakima, which is the flat plains, dessert, or joint base Luis-McChord, that’s arguably rain forest type material, you know, very dense wooded, so this gives us the very happy medium of both,” said Lt. Col. Jared Bordwell, 7th Infantry Division operations officer.
Top notch equipment is also essential in making sure these solders are ready to deploy anywhere in the world.
All pilots get to fly the Apache, the most lethal aircraft in the world. Ground troops are in the Stryker, a highly mobile combat vehicle.
Days at Fort Hunter Liggett are long are hard, and sleep is not guaranteed.
This is the final training stop for 6,000 soldiers before they head to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin.
The Army hopes more people get to see how they train.
“There’s a lot of question on the capabilities of our military and a very small population in the country is in the military. So I think, you know, as people see things like this on the news or read about them in any type of news outlet, it should tell them, 'Hey, our Army is capable,' and we continue to maintain our readiness to answer pretty much any call globally,” Bordwell said.