Trainees watch fireworks during Fort Jackson’s Independence Day Celebration held on Hilton Field, July 1. Fort Jackson pulled out all the stops for the successful extravaganza including food, beverages and rides for kids. (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)

Fort Jackson celebrates America's 247th birthday with fireworks extravaganza

By Emily Hileman and Robert Timmons, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

It may have been hot, and a little muggy, but it was a welcome relief for trainees in the middle of Basic Combat Training on Fort Jackson.

They weren’t out at the Forge or another field training exercise. They were on Hilton Field enjoying a concert, pizza and fireworks – all part of Fort Jackson Independence Day festivities, July 1.

Fort Jackson pulled out all the stops for the successful extravaganza including food, beverages and rides for kids. There were even cooling tents to help beat the heat. There were 14 food trucks offering festival staples such as fried Oreos and funnel cakes; and not-so-traditional Bulgogi and ice cream sundaes.

Trainees, however, had food choices all to themselves as well including pre-ordered pizzas. So many pizzas were bought that the empty boxes overflowed a tractor trailer.

“It’s nice, but it’s kind of hot. I’m burning up, but I’m from the islands, so I’m used to it,” said Pvt. Jaiden Camacho.

For Pvt. Dallas Boyd the day was a good “reliever. It gives me a little of the outside world here, but after this we understand we have to get back to business, but it’s a nice little break.”

Camacho, Boyd and Pvt. Jacob Jackson are some who also met Blanco Brown, the headlining musician during the celebration.

The fireworks weren’t much of a surprise to Jackson, who said he was cued in by friends that it may happen.

“I had a buddy that was split ops last year and came back and said, ‘Hey, if you ship out in May, you’re most likely gonna get a Fourth of July concert.’ So, I was expecting it, I just didn’t know who would be here, but I’m glad we got somebody good.”

Other trainees enjoyed the music as well as the time away from training.

Pvt. Alyssa Patterson was, “Very excited to be able to talk to different companies and platoons and enjoy some freedom time away from basic training and get to have some fun.”

The weight of the evening hit Pvt. Jordan Ward during the National Anthem.

“It feels great,” Ward said. “We got to salute the flag for the first time tonight during the national anthem that was a big deal. I feel like we’re all pretty excited about that. And then just stepping away from the rigorous training and to be able to see normal people doing normal everyday things and to know like in a few weeks we’ll be out in this field graduating, it feels great.”

Pfc. Andre Gutierrez agreed saying it is good to have a “little bit of freedom to do our team to enjoy our time … before we get back into training.

The event wasn’t just for trainees and the Fort Jackson community – the post opened its doors to the local community to come and watch arguably the best fireworks in the area.

Haley Anderson, who is friends with musical artist Brooks Herring, who opened the show, said it was easy getting on post.

“Once we went through the main gate, the blue line, takes us right here,” Anderson said. The event was “very well organized. Parking, very well organized.”

“We’re having fun, sitting out with our friends and we’re looking forward to seeing the fireworks,” she added. “That was a big draw for me. We live in the city, so we can’t shoot our own fireworks, so this is great.”