New Rockford senior enlists in N.D. National Guard
August 23, 2021
On August 13, Private Kaden Jensen, a senior at New Rockford-Sheyenne High School, returned from basic combat training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., becoming the latest of his family to serve our country in the armed services.
Jensen enlisted in the North Dakota National Guard last year at just 17 years old, taking advantage of a split training option for juniors in high school. When asked why he decided to serve, Jensen said, "I decided to join because I have lots of family who are prior service members, and I wanted to serve my country".
Jensen joins a long and distinguished list of over a dozen family members who have also served in America's armed forces. Of particular influence to Jensen were his uncle, Russel Abrahamson, who served in Vietnam, and his grandfather, David Abrahamson, who served in Germany and attended Jensen's enlistment.
Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, which trains roughly 50 percent of the country's army recruits each year, is a 10-week process divided into three phases: Red, White and Blue, each lasting about three weeks. Here, Jensen learned how to march, repel and handle weapons, as well as the importance of discipline and teamwork.
"It helped me become more disciplined and understand how teamwork works, and how you need to rely on other people," explained Jensen. "Because you may be weak on some things, but other people are stronger on other things, and you just work together."
Recruits were also forced to endure arduous physical training and go on long ruck marches, described as lengthy marches into the wilderness, while carrying 50 or more pounds of equipment. Nevertheless, Jensen enjoyed the opportunity to watch his progression.
"The best part was physical training. We'd do that every morning and we'd have an APFT, which is a test to see how physically fit you are and see if you can move on in the training," explained Jensen. "It was fun because you'd get to see other peoples' progress, and then see your own progression as you went through basic."
Recruits are only allowed to use their phone once a week, and most if not all amenities from civilian life are stripped from their everyday routines. One of the hardest aspects to overcome is the distance from family. But as Jensen explains, "It was hard for like a week, but afterwards you just have so much coming at you that you don't really focus on anything but training."
Nevertheless, Jensen has enjoyed a few of the amenities he enjoyed before basic training.
"I get to enjoy things that I didn't get to do at basic. I got to see friends and I missed driving around, which is always what I used to do, and I get to use my phone again."
Private Kaden Jensen, 2nd Battalion, 39th Regiment – Delta Company, will begin his senior year on August 24, during which he'll train one weekend a month with his local unit. After graduating, he'll go to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for his chosen guard job, electrical engineering, at Fort Leonard Wood, Miss., and he plans to attend college to become an electrician.
Jensen is the son of Tony & Kristy O'Connor and Tony Jensen.