How the National Guard trains to keep Massachusetts safe

JOINT BASE CAPE COD, Mass. — Running, dragging weights, carrying kettlebells — all part of training the Massachusetts National Guard goes through every month.

They offered media a chance to see what it’s like and it’s not easy.

“The soldiers that we have serving one weekend a month here are your neighbors. They’re the doctors, lawyers, electricians and plumbers that live right next door to you, so just to raise awareness of who they are,” said Master Sergeant Geoffrey Allen who invited the media in to see what it’s like to be ready to do their job.

The Massachusetts National Guard is the first militia in the country — formed in Salem back in 1636.

Next up were pushups, 10 minimum to 60 max in 2 minutes.

Luckily, I got a few pointers first.

I got 40 in and, again, it was not easy. On to the rope climb, which was daunting.

But luckily, I made it up and down. Along the way we met Staff Sgt. Rob Ricciardi of Peabody. He’s a recruiter for the Guard now. But last year he was part of the Headquarters Battery First of the 101st Field Artillery Regiment. They were one of the last units out evacuating from Afghanistan.

“Myself, along with my soldiers, were able to be part of the largest non-combatant evacuation operation in US Army history,” said Staff Sgt. Rob Ricciardi.

That unit is from Brockton and Staff Sgt. Ricciardi says it was an honor to serve with all of them.

Now it was time to get dirty and I did — crawling through dirt and under wires to simulate staying low during a battle.

That’s when we came across SPC Rharia Schaper. She’s from Brazil and joined the guard for a lot of reasons. Free college tuition is one and she got her U.S. citizenship, but those were not her main motivation.

“For us it makes a difference because we can give it back. The country gave me so many opportunities,” said SPC Schaper.

Then it was inside to the simulated firing range. It’s a way for the Guard to practice shooting without using real bullets while honing their skills. It also saves the government money because they use dummy bullets, not real ones.

At the end we were awarded with a meal ready to eat, or MRE. Boston 25 and I would like to thank the Massachusetts National Guard for the opportunity to see how they train first hand. It was hard but fun and the MRE actually tasted pretty good too!