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U.S. Army Pfc. Russell Dilling
Army’s Oldest Basic Trainee Graduates
By Bob Bellin
Fort Jackson Leader
FORT JACKSON, S.C., Oct 16, 2006 — The Army’s oldest Basic Combat Training soldier marched off Hilton Field here last Friday as a graduate.

Pfc. Russell Dilling, 42, Company A, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, enlisted in June after the Army raised its maximum active-duty enlistment age to 42.

“The hardest part,” Dilling said, “was switching over from civilian to soldier – making the transition was the hardest.”

Despite the physical challenges, Dilling said he succeeded by keeping a positive attitude.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence and I have a lot of pride in myself, and that outweighs all of the physical pain I experienced,” he said.

Dilling underwent a physical transformation, losing almost 40 pounds in nine weeks.

“He’s got heart. He didn’t quit,” said battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Marion Mike.

Dilling’s parents, sister, two aunts and oldest son attending the graduation.

Spc. Jonathan Dilling, 259th Quartermaster Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo., said it felt “different” to see his father graduate just weeks after seeing his younger brother graduate.

“I expected my brother to follow in my footsteps, not my dad,” he said. The specialist smiled and said that if he and his dad served in the same location, he would probably still outrank his dad.

With basic training complete, the oldest soldier in the Dilling family is now at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., learning small arms and artillery repair.

“It’s been an interest of mine,” Dilling said, “and I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”

Last Updated:
10/16/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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