Nathan Kwasinski and Thomas Payne, 2012 graduates of Tupelo High School, stood outside the pavilion, talking about upcoming basic training and their assignments.
Payne begins basic training this month.
“I’m going to be a logistics specialist,” he said. “I’ll be dealing with supplies.”
Payne said he enlisted in October because he was ready for a new challenge.
“I wanted to try something new,” he said, “different from school.”
Kwasinski will begin training at Fort Benning, Ga., in November.
“I’ll be an M1 Abrams crewman,” he said. “I’ll be running, reloading, shooting and doing a little maintenance on the tanks. It’s a pretty cool job.”
Kwasinski said he joined the Army because his grandfather was an Army Ranger and he has always looked up to military personnel.
“I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else,” Kwasinski said. He plans to stay in the military and work to become an officer.
Adam Hill, 23, of Baldwyn, said he has always known he would end up in the U.S. Army – it runs in his blood.
“It comes down to a long line of Army blood,” Hill said. “My dad was in the Army, two of my uncles were in the Army and my brother was in the Army. I’ve always wanted to do it and I finally decided if I’m going to do it, I need to do it now.”
Hill said he began the process of enlisting after high school but talked himself out of it and is ready and excited now.
“I know I have to deploy and I’m actually looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ll get to see more than I’ve seen so far. I’ve never left the United States.”
Hill will work on Chinook utility helicopters.
Victoria Wilson, 20, of Columbus, soon will begin training to join the Army’s 92nd Sierra, a field laundry unit that deploys with combat units.
“I want to get back into school and they will help me with that,” Wilson said. “I’m ready to travel as well.”
Twenty-nine new soldiers joined active duty soldiers in singing the Army song, taking the Army oath and then playing baseball.
First Sgt. Angela Indardeo said gatherings like the one at Ballard Park help instill a sense of family and community in the young soldiers.