Home for the holidays
It’s a brand New Year filled with many changes for many people—including Dakotah Funke, a 2016-17 Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School graduate.
Less than one short year ago, Funke has gone from studying for his classes and playing on the football team to learning how to throw grenades, shoot firearms, and survive in the wilderness. But while learning how to properly master these skills may be relatively new for Funke, who will officially graduate from the United States Army’s basic training program in Georgia on Jan. 18, they’re something that’s always been on his to-do list.
“I’ve always wanted to join the Army,” said Funke. “Learning how to shoot, move and communicate has been fun.”
After being involved with the military’s Future Soldier Program in high school and following graduation in May, Funke officially signed an oath with the Army in September of 2017.
Stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia, Funke has most recently completed 14 weeks of mental and physical training—training to become an infantryman whose mission is to eliminate threats. At the end of his training, Funke qualified as an expert on M4 marksmanship. In addition to learning how to shoot various firearms and throw grenades, Funke also learned how to repel down a rope.
For Funke, perhaps the biggest task of basic training was when he had to survive for six nights and seven days in the wilderness. Funke explained that besides walking 12 miles up and down hills with a 60 lbs. rucksack on his back, FTX—the wilderness survival part of basic training—forced him to put all of his skills together. After putting his knowledge and skills to the test, Funke said he and all of his peers were rewarded at the end of FTX, as they were congratulated by drill sergeants and infantrymen who shared the infantryman’s creed and cross rifle pin with him.
So, what’s Funke’s advice for those interested in basic training?
“Have thick skin,” laughed Funke. “Try to get in shape…workout… run a lot…”
Home for the holidays, Funke will officially graduate on Jan. 18. On Jan. 19, a ceremony will take place and Funke will receive blue
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