Looking up at the 47-foot Warrior Tower on Fort Leonard Wood can be a daunting view for some Soldiers in training.
Looking down from the top is even scarier for some.
“For a lot of Soldiers, the natural reaction is hesitation because of the fear of stepping over the edge,” said Sgt. 1st Class. John Smith, Warrior Tower complex, noncommissioned officer in charge.
According to Staff Sgt. Bradley Larsen, Warrior Tower complex instructor, overcoming the fear is part of why rappelling is important for new Soldiers.
“The purpose of the tower is to get them to overcome their fears,” he said. “That way, they know they can do something, and the Army is not going to put them in a position where they are going to get hurt.”
Rappelling down the Warrior Tower is important not only for overcoming fears, but also for building confidence, according to one company first sergeant.
“It’s extremely important for them to go through Warrior Tower training, because it builds confidence and resilience in their selves and their ability to actually accomplish something,” said 1st Sgt. Robert Graber, first sergeant, Co. C, 787th MP Bn.
One drill sergeant from Co. C agrees.
“It’s important for them, because a lot of these Soldiers haven’t experienced any kind of real challenges in their life,” said Sgt. Meagan Feliciano, drill sergeant, 2nd platoon, Co. C, 787th MP Bn. “For a brand new private who has never rappelled off a wall, it’s challenging for them, and they are scared. Once they get done, they realize it was fun.
“It builds their confidence, and it makes the tasks further ahead easier because of tasks like this. Once they realize they can complete a task like this it puts the other tasks they have ahead of them in perspective,” she added.
Pvt. Melissa Cianci, 3rd Platoon, Co. C, 787th MP Bn., said it wasn’t about the fear of heights for her, having gone skydiving just days before coming to Fort Leonard Wood.
“I think it’s important to put Soldiers through the tower so they have personal courage and confidence in their equipment,” she said. “I’m more confident with equipment that I never thought I would be.”
Smith said it also builds trust between the drill sergeants and the new Soldiers. “This is the first, most challenging thing these Soldiers have in training. Some try to hold onto the drill sergeants and not go down the tower,” Smith said, adding that often a drill sergeant’s hand on the shoulder of the Soldier freaking out on top of the tower is all the Soldier needs to get over their fear.
Climbing to the top of Warrior Tower is typically done early on during Basic Combat Training, Larsen said. Co. C was there on training day 14.
“It’s important for them to do it early on. We challenge them, both mentally and physically, and by doing Warrior Tower early, it allows them the ability to realize they can overcome just about any obstacle we throw their way,” Graber said. “We continue to see a progressive change from civilian to Soldier with every task, and it starts from the foundation of them going off the Warrior Tower.”
Pfc. Michelle Deyoe, 2nd Platoon, Company C, 787th Military Police Battalion. agreed.
“After Warrior Tower, I believe I can accomplish anything,” she said. “If you can go rappel down a 40 foot tower and not freak out or cry, then you can do anything.”