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News | Nov. 13, 2023

ARSOUTH Soldier and Drill Sergeant reunited at Southern Vanguard 24

By Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pietrantoni U.S. Army South Public Affairs

Soldiers that graduate from Army basic combat training typically don’t want to see their drill sergeants after going through a rigorous 10-week training, but that wasn’t the case for Spc. Joshua Taeckens, who bumped into his old drill sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie Lewellen in the middle of the Amazonia River in Brazil.

Taeckens, a mass communication specialist from Joint Base San Antonio Fort Sam Houston, Texas, assigned to the U.S. Army South Public Affairs team covering the Southern Vanguard 24 exercise in Brazil, was tasked to cover the water techniques training in the Amazonia River as part of the jungle familiarization course ahead of the exercise. He got in the water with the Soldiers and started to film on his GoPro when Lewellen entered his frame.

“We locked eyes and instantly recognized each other but didn’t know where from,” Taeckens said. “Once we figured out where we knew each other from, I instantly got a flashback from when he corrected me in basic training, so it brought back great memories.”

Lewellen, who is assigned to the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade tried to stay focused on the training but couldn’t believe the encounter.

“I won’t lie it was very random to see one of my initial-entry Soldiers here in the jungle,” Lewellen said. “But after the training, we got to talk, and he filled me in on what he’s done since basic training. It was a rewarding feeling knowing he’s living up to those standards we gave him a few years back.”

Taeckens and Lewellen will continue to support and train during the exercise until Nov. 16th and then go back to their respective units.

“I really admire Sgt. 1st Class Lewellen and it really put everything he taught us into perspective as I’m applying it here in Brazil,” Taeckens said. “It’s a great story, and I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”