Written by Chinue Clifford
If you are from a city, you are likely never to experience it – complete darkness on the night of a new moon. Light pollution from cars, street lights, houses prevent it. It wasn’t quite pitch black the night Clevy Nelson-Royster had to pass her night land navigation training, but alone, in a wilderness, she had to overcome the innate human fear of darkness. Night land navigation requires that a person be able to orient themselves using a map and compass to find grid coordinates.
Imagine being in the middle of the woods, alone, no GPS, no cell phone, no other people, no familiar landmarks, and the only light you can access is a low level red light for limited night vision. And imagine being a woman and doing so!
There Clevy was, with just a small red light in the wilderness.
For Nelson-Royster, this training was part of the series and metrics used to determine her fate in the Army upon graduating. Clevy was able to navigate in the dark, including “hightailing” away from a pack of animals- to this day unknown exactly what kind- and pass her training.
Many women face this challenge as part of their Army training. Her mother, and in fact all of her family in the Nelson and Royster clan, remain proud of her many achievements.