By Sydney Callis
Leader’s Training Course
The sounds of birds’ chirping and leaves rustling create a calming environment within the confines of Heard Park on Fort Knox. Echoing through the grounds of the park, shouts of “Frago” interrupt nature’s song.
During the summer, the fields of the park are overtaken by Leader’s Training Course Cadets as they learn the basics of handling hand grenades. Ducking for cover and low crawling their way through training simulations, Cadets get to experience something they haven’t done before.
“It was really fun and useful,” said Charlie Company Cadet William Potter of Clarkson University in New York. “It’s something that you don’t normally do at a training exercise in college because it’s not readily available.”
Throwing the grenades, Cadets drop to the ground to duck for cover and wait to hear the small “pop” of the dummy grenade as it releases a small puff of smoke. Aiming for targets inside a circle, the smoke allows Cadets to see where their grenade landed.
While some of the training at the course focuses on building teamwork and leadership, this training focuses on another skill set Cadets can add to their repertoire with a real-life application, said 1st Lt. Mathew Brown, a trainer at the site.
“Before these guys can go out and lead actual Soldiers, they need to be able to do the basic tasks,” Brown said. “You can’t ask anything of your Soldiers that you’re not ready to do yourself.”
Brown said the training itself is easy, and it takes Cadets just a few minutes to listen to the instructions and practice how to throw the steel balls.
“It’s a lot different than throwing a baseball,” Brown said. “It’s just a matter of going through some basic steps. Give anybody five or 10 minutes, and they’ll be able to throw it. It’s just a matter if they can get the form down.”
This difference in throwing form between baseball and grenades affected Cadets as they aimed for the targets, which look like the upper half of a human body.
“People that played baseball had a little bit of trouble with it because you can’t throw it like a baseball, but it wasn’t really hard to get the form down,” said Charlie Company Cadet Phillip King of Cornell University.
If they didn’t get the form at first, Cadets were given multiple other turns to throw a grenade. During their time at the hand grenade site, Cadets throw two grenades from a standing position, two from a kneeling position and one from a bunker.
“It was good to be able to actually try throwing hand grenades,” King said. “I was surprised by the weight of the grenade. It was much heavier than I thought it would be.”
Brown said men and women in combat situations are being recognized for their bravery in combat for throwing hand grenades to repel the enemy off of bases. This real-life application is something Cadets are recognizing as they go through the training.
“It might save your life someday,” Potter said. “So, it’s pretty useful to know how to do.”