Reporter's Notebook: Camp Ripley – Wednesday, June 23 (Final Day)
We woke up at 5:00 a.m., got ready for the day and started shooting video around 5:30 a.m. this morning. We wanted to get some footage of soldiers getting their breakfast. Every morning and every evening, troops line up outside the "Chow Hall." Although the line looks like it might take forever to get through, it actually moves pretty quickly.
During our time at Camp Ripley, we've noticed that soldiers were rarely (if ever) without their weapon. Everyone had a rifle strapped around their neck at all times. They take their rifle with them to eat in the morning, carry it around all day and even sleep next to it at night. The only time they don't have their weapon with them is when they take a shower. When troops take a shower, their "battle buddy" must watch, guard and protect their rifle.
Every soldier we spoke to said their weapon was "the most important piece of equipment they own." The military trains troops to treat their rifles like a third arm. Although some said they were not too fond of carrying it around everywhere, most said it makes them feel safer and more secure.
After we wrapped up our conversations, we packed up and headed back to Iowa. We're on the road right now and we have multiple other stories in the works even though our time at Camp Ripley has ended. This was an amazing opportunity to see how the military operates and to share some compelling stories about the men and women who will put their lives on the line to protect everyone else's freedom.