As Americans go about their daily lives, a majority of them hardly ever think about the sacrifices and hardships that the U.S. Military goes through each day to keep each citizen free and far from harm. To give students a real life perspective and show the realities of the war on terror, with assistance from Sgt. William Dietrich of the National Guard, a military Stryker was brought onto the Greater Latrobe Senior High campus on Tuesday, November 16, 2010. “It is extremely important for students to get a glimpse of todays military,” said Sgt. William Dietrich. “By giving students a better understanding, they can determine whether they want to serve their country in the military or in the civilian workforce.”
“It is important for students to see real life soldiers and the technologies they use,” said History teacher Mr. Saveikis who, along with Mr. Wetzel and Mr. LoCascio, helped to organize the event.
Although a rainy and windy day, students were able to get a firsthand look at the newest technologies the U.S. Military has to enforce safety in the country and throughout the world. Through this, Greater Latrobe history teachers were able to bring the history book into real life as each class went to see the Stryker for themselves, rather than through the pages of a textbook. “It was tactical. The students could touch it, see it, use it and in the end, they learned it,” said Saveikis.
The Stryker has many functions in combat, depending on the unit. The one displayed for students was a communications Stryker, its purpose is to connect frequencies from one area to another, allowing for communication of the battlefield. Other purposes include medical Strykers with mini emergency rooms, while others are used to fire mortars out the back hatch, carry infantry soldiers, and maintain command and control. “The battlefield today is unlike any battlefield we have fought on,” said Dietrich. “The U.S. military needed a vehicle that is fast, durable, and able to maneuver in an urban environment, and the Stryker is that vehicle.”
Students were given a tour inside the Stryker’s hull, which carries some of the latest and greatest technology the U.S. military has to offer. Some students sat in the gunner’s seat and worked the gun turret (with, of course, no weapons mounted), which provides the gunner with 360 degrees of view. Some students also got to experience the FBCB2 system, which uses GPS to track all friendly forces in the area of operation, as well as an “instant messaging” feature to allow soldiers to send messages back and forth. In addition, a demonstration was given on how the heat-seeking sights work. “The students appeared very impressed with the Stryker,” remarked Dietrich. “This equipment is often seen on the news, but rarely up close.”
On the exterior of the Stryker, students were able to view the other machinery and equipment to further realize the magnitude of the important machine, which keeps the troops safe from harm. These experiences enlightened students to the real world. “It showed the numerous technologies that Military has, while also simply showing soldiers are just like everyone, each with friends and family,” added Saveikis. “When you see it, you really grasp it.”
The experience was a tremendous way for students to learn, especially for World Cultures students, who will study the Middle East later in the year. When the topic of the Stryker comes up again, the students will have a mental picture created from the day’s event. However, not just history skills were educated. “Many skills were taught through the presentation,” said Saveikis. “Skills from math and science are also used often on the Stryker in combat, pinpointing specific areas, for example.”
In the end, many students were able to gain a better understanding of the real technologies that the U.S. Military uses daily to keep themselves and each of us safe, in addition the sacrifices they give each day. “Most of the kids came away pretty excited and I hope they will remember this event late in life, when they see it on TV or in other classes,” summed up Saveikis.
Commenting on the day’s events, Dietrich stated, “I would to thank the Greater Latrobe School District for allowing the Army National Guard to display the Stryker, Mr. Saveikis for helping make the display possible, and the students for their interest.”