Freshmen soon might find themselves in an even more terrifying place than high school: the battlefield. A study of how freshmen at Cherry High School East utilize echolocation to navigate the school’s corridors, which concluded that they are extremely effective at doing so, has caught the attention of the US military. US Army Captain Brian Hendersen, commanding officer of the 1st Infantry Division’s Bravo Company, currently operating in Afghanistan, came across one of his men reading the issue and took a look.
Said Hendersen, “I read the article and I knew this is what my men and I need to be more successful in winning the war here.”
He took the issue to his commanding officer, Colonel Thomas Schultz, who agreed entirely.
“For some time,” said Schultz, “we’ve been hampered by our ability to rout out enemy fighters who are hiding in caves. With these freshmen, we’ll be able to increase our effectiveness whilst minimizing casualties.”
Forty-eight freshmen, designated to the 1st Provisional Pathfinder Platoon, were selected to test this new type of warfare. With the consent of both the freshmen and their parents, they were deployed to Afghanistan to aid in fighting the Taliban insurgents. They have been a rousing success.
Since he was the one who pioneered the concept, Captain Hendersen was given the honor of leading the first deployment of the freshmen.
“I took Bravo’s second platoon and three of the freshmen to hunt down a suspected insurgent stronghold, a cave near one of our main supply routes that is believed to be home to a mortar firebase. I sent the freshmen to the cave’s mouth, and they didn’t even get inside before they spazzed out, saying that there were men in the caves. We didn’t want to set off the mortar ammo, so I bowled in a few dud grenades to flush out the insurgents. Five men came running out, and we captured the lot of them. The freshmen were still a little worried, so I sent a squad inside to check it out, and it turned out that there were still two men inside, so we slotted ‘em. I was the toast of the officer’s club last night, and I could not have done it without the freshmen.”
Not all in the military support the new freshmen pathfinders. Air Force Technical Sergeant David Canaris is an electronic warfare officer on an F-16 fighter jet. He claims that the freshmen are interfering with reconnaissance operations.
Said Canaris, “you can always tell when the freshmen are around because your equipment will go crazy. Those echolocation pulses interfere with our communications and radar, and that ain’t good.”
For that matter, not all of the freshmen are happy with their new role.
Daniel Sorenson (‘12) said, “I thought it’d be like Call of Duty 4. Running around killing guys and blowing stuff up whilst someone makes wisecracks all the time. It ain’t like that at all. I haven’t shot a single weapon, I haven’t seen artillery bombardments. There isn’t even any dramatic yelling over the radios, just ‘go here’, or ‘scout this place out’. Heck, these guys aren’t even Special Forces! This stinks…”
Rachel Kiley (‘12) was a cheerleader back at East. Now she’s one of the premiere pathfinders in 1st Infantry. She hates it.
“Personal hygiene here is awful,” she said. “I only get to take a shower every three days, every other if I’m lucky.”
She also considers the habits of infantrymen she has to work with to be deplorable.
“I’m at a meeting to talk about our mission, and the guy in charge with an eagle on his chest is scratching his butt! I told him afterwards he shouldn’t do that in public, and he told me that if I ever wanted to see three chevrons on my sleeve [the insignia of a Sergeant, all the pathfinders currently hold the rank of Private First Class], I shouldn’t talk back to him. I don’t even know what a chevron is!”
Despite the complaints of some of the pathfinders, Captain Hendersen and Colonel Schultz consider the experiment to be a success.
“We have seen a sharp increase in successful missions, and a sharp decrease in casualties. With luck, we’ll be able to raise a company’s worth of these Freshmen Pathfinders,” said Henderson.
What do the current pathfinders have to say about these potential new arrivals? Jonathan Lindemuth (‘12) summed it up best by saying, “Good luck. You’re gonna need it.”