By Gabriel Weinstein Assistant editor
EAGLE NEST— Right now Cullen Gasparlin is just another freshman trying to figure out his way around Eastern New Mexico University. Things will be different for Gasparlin spring semester. In December the Eagle Nest native and 2014 Cimarron High School graduate will trade in his textbooks for combat boots as he heads out for 10 weeks of basic combat training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and eight weeks of advanced individual training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missourri.
Gasparlin is a member of the Army National Guard’s Det. 1 1115th Transport Battalion out of Raton. He is one of two Eagle Nest residents and Cimarron High School grads to join the military this year. Outside of a great-grandfather that fought in World War II, Gasparlin said he is the first member of his family to join the military. In the army his job title is a 88M, a motor transport operator.
During his first few weeks of college, Gasparlin has come across several former active duty soldiers and other Army National Guard members who have given him advice about what to expect during basic training. He has also received advice from another Cimarron grad and fellow ENMU student who is a member of a National Guard unit in Clovis.
“They’re able to give me advice. Everyone’s been real friendly and real helpful,” he said.
Their tales of basic training’s highs and lows have Gasparlin excited for his trek to Fort Sill and Fort Leonard Wood. He enlisted in November 2013, shortly after his 18th birthday.
“They’re telling me it’s a blast,” he said. “I like the fact that it’s supposed to be difficult and breaking. I’m just looking forward to see what my limits are. I’m just super excited.”
Before he heads off to basic training Gasparlin is enjoying taking core classes at ENMU. He is looking forward to supplementing his college coursework with the leadership and decision making skills the military provides.
As Gasparlin prepares to head off to basic training he has a new appreciation for the veterans in the Moreno Valley that have served before him.
“I take pride in it,” he said. “It’s really humbling just seeing the sacrifice that others have put forth so that I have the choice to do the same and so that others have the choice to not.”