FORT HOOD, Texas - The 473rd Marine Wing Support Squadron became the first Marine unit to tackle the Fort Hood Air Assault Obstacle Course, April 20.
The Fort Worth based reserve unit attended the obstacle course here to close out their weekend training.
“It’s very rare,” said 1st Sgt. James Williams Jr., Fort Hood Air Assault School first sergeant. “Obviously we have the Air Force located on Fort Hood and we’ve even had foreign services, the Dutch, here, but this is the first time we’ve had a service such as the Marine Corps here at the Fort Hood Air Assault School.”
Traveling to Fort Hood to complete their monthly training was a huge opportunity for the 473rd MWSS.
“We’re on a reserve base so we don’t have the same kind of facilities that you do here,” said Capt. Matthew Mayer, logistics and motor transport officer for the 473rd MWSS. “We’re really thankful that the Army is so open to letting us come down and be part of this.”
With members of the unit living as far away as San Antonio, monthly training is their only chance to interact.
“Whenever you have Marines or sailors together just once a month it’s hard to build that team morale that you get in an active duty unit,” said Mayer. “When we can do things like this and get our junior Marines interacting with our NCOs it’s always good. It really helps them build camaraderie, which is a difficult thing to attain in a unit when you only see them two days a month.”
Strengthening a unit’s interpersonal bonds is exactly what the obstacle course is intended to provide.
“We have a couple of Marines who are afraid of heights, but we’re having our NCO’s give them motivation,” said Mayer. “We’ve had people doing things that they didn’t think they could do before.”
NCO’s involvement is strongly encouraged as a team-building facet of the obstacle course.
“When you’re up there and you see your leadership do something that’s obviously difficult like scaling a 35 foot ladder and going 80 feet down a rope, you believe in that leader,” said Williams. “When that leader tells you, ‘hey, you can do it too,’ that’s a powerful statement to that soldier and individual.”
“You will bring your team together through hardship,” said Williams. “It’s a pillar of teamwork, working together to overcome a difficult situation that you would otherwise not be able to do as an individual.”
“When you don’t trust the people you’re with or you don’t understand what they’re capable of, it’s going to make it harder to accomplish the mission,” said Mayer. “If you can trust them and you know what they can and can’t do, you can accomplish the mission with confidence.”
After completing the obstacle course the Marines left to return to their training site. Each troop walked off the course with a dirty uniform and a smile.
“I’m glad that we were able to get our first Marine Corps unit out here,” said Williams. “We encourage other services to come out here to the great place and get some of the great, quality training that we have to offer. Our doors are always open.”