Story by Scott Sturkol on 02/13/2019Thirty-one students completed training in the Cold-Weather Operations Course Class 19-03, graduating Feb. 3.
This class of students experienced a heavy snowfall and some bitter cold days toward the end of their training. In the end, though, many said they greatly appreciated the 14 days of training.
"This course has taught me, as well as my peers, how to communicate and work as a team under extremely harsh conditions. I also will be able to use lessons from this class in my life since I live in the north. I greatly appreciate the challenges this class presented," said Staff Sgt. Cody Nichols with the 829th Engineer Company of Spooner, Wis.
CWOC students learned about skiing, snowshoeing, improvised-shelter and Arctic-tent building, ahkio sled use, use of tent heaters, how to build a fire, and more.
"I learned a lot of skills from this cold-weather training that you couldn't get anywhere else without having to pay a fortune or having to try and figure out yourself," said student Spc. Jack Johnston with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry of the Wisconsin National Guard. "The best part of the course is bivouacking and applying the skills you learned in a real scenario."
One of the teachable skills that many students said they not only appreciated but also will teach to other Soldiers in their unit is how to wear the Army Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS).
"The overall course skills I've learned will be passed on to other Soldiers, particularly the use of the ECWCS and camouflage overgarments," said student Spc. Nathan W. Alft with Alpha Company of the 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the Wisconsin National Guard.
"Learning the correct use of cold-weather clothing as well as the effects extreme temperatures on equipment were useful lessons," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Russett with Detachment 1, 1st-128th Infantry. "But the cold-weather mitigation by proper use of the issued clothing was probably the best part of the course."
Probably most importantly, at least according to several students, the cold-weather training helped each student learn more about themselves and the people they work with in a cold-weather environment.
"The course pushed me to my physical and mental limits," said Sgt. 1st Class John Neira with Fox Company, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) of Mosinee, Wis. "My squad was awesome. I had to lean on them to get through. It was a real team effort."
And many students also appreciated the teaching the CWOC instructors provided.
"All the instructors were great and really made the course even better," said student Sgt. Natalie Limes with the 310th Chemical Company at Annisten, Ala.
"Extremely knowledgeable and experienced cadre provided the right real-world application and teaching points for this course," said Capt. Seth Moore with Charlie Company, 132nd BSB.
A total of six CWOC classes are being conducted through the end of March. Training also teaches terrain and weather analysis, risk management, developing winter fighting positions in the field, camouflage and concealment, and more.
This is the third consecutive winter training season the Fort McCoy Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security has coordinated the training. Instructors include Bill Hamilton, Joe Ernst, Hunter Heard, Manny Ortiz, and Mike Nguyen.
Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin. The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy.