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Fort Sill in-person Graduation to help local economy

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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FORT SILL, Okla. (KSWO) - Fort Sill held an in-person graduation for the first time since the pandemic.

Families of nearly 300 basic combat trainees are in town this weekend, celebrating their soldiers’ graduation.

The return of in-person events, like this is crucial to getting the economy back on track.

“The graduations are extremely important to our economy. Our business community loves to support our graduates, and we love to see the families out in the community, eating at our restaurants, and shopping at our shopping centers. We love to welcome them out to the community,” Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Krista Ratliff-Smith said.

Soldiers from Delta Battery 1-19 and Alpha Battery 1-31 spent ten long weeks going through intense training, pushing to get to this moment.

It was worth every minute for Manjinder Sandhu.

Graduating was a major accomplishment for him as he’s the first person in his family to join the United States Army.

“I think it’s going to be good for the future when I have my kids and my kids have kids. That maybe they could follow in the same footsteps,” Sandhu said.

Sandhu thinks this could be the start of a family tradition.

During those 10-weeks things got tough for Bradley Heater when he started to become home-sick.

“The toughest part is being away from home, being away from family. But once you can get over that, you just dig down and get through it,” Heater said.

But having his family at graduation today made up for all that missed time.

Samuel Couturier is one of those many graduates who are proud to serve the country. He’s ready to see what the Army has in store for him.

“I’m going to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to go to my advanced training. It’s horizontal construction, so I’ll be working with dirt and heavy machinery,” Couturier said.

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