News: Golden Griffins' GI Spouse Day brings together paratroopers and families
Story by Sgt. William Reinier
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Most mornings, Hailey Warsop ignores the alarm clock when it goes off at 5 a.m. Most mornings, she tries to get a few extra hours of sleep after Staff Sgt. Shane Warsop, a career counselor for the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, leaves for morning formation. And most mornings, her day doesn’t begin until the kids are awake and it’s time for her to go to class. The morning of Oct. 10 was not like most mornings.
For Hailey and more than 30 other spouses and family members of the paratroopers assigned to the Golden Griffins of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, that particular morning and the rest of the day were all about them.
The Griffins hosted the GI Spouse Day as a way to give both spouses and families a better understanding of what their paratroopers do on a day-to-day basis.
Sgt. 1st Class Carla Williams, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the event, said her goal was to wear out the participants so they understand why their spouses are tired at the end of the day.
“When they get through, I want them [the spouses] to be tired,” she said. “I want them to be frustrated and say, ‘My soldier really goes through something throughout the day.’”
The Griffin families began the day at 6:30 a.m., in formation and wearing the uniform of the day: a special GI Spouse Day shirt.
After a few warm-up exercises, they were taken to the Fort Bragg Air Assault Obstacle Course. Climbing over walls and crawling under barbed wire turned out to be more difficult than Hailey anticipated.
“They looked easy and then once I got there it came out to be a lot harder than what I assumed,” she said.
After the obstacle course, the participants had to get onto trucks to take them to the next event. However, the trucks were a mile away behind simulated enemy lines. The spouses had to conduct a tactical road march to the convoy. Along the way, they were ambushed with artillery simulators and smoke.
Teams of four were assigned to carry a litter with a water can strapped to it to show them what it’s like to move an injured soldier out of harm’s way.
Mallory Simpson, wife of Spc. Brandon Simpson, said the mock patrol opened her eyes a little to what her husband does.
“It’s scary actually,” she said. “They’re prepared as much as they can be, but it [enemy contact] can just come out of nowhere.”
Upon reaching the trucks, they climbed aboard and rode to the engagement skills trainer, a computer-simulated rifle range. There, the spouses learned about the basics of rifle marksmanship and engaged targets on the trainer.
Later that day, the Griffins moved to Fort Bragg’s Advanced Airborne School where one of the most anticipated events of the day jumped off. Leaping from the 34-foot tower gave Hailey the adrenaline rush she had been looking forward to the entire day, while giving her a chance to see what Shane experiences every time he jumps.
“The equipment is very heavy and extremely uncomfortable,” she said. “I feel for him for sure, but it was fun.”
Hailey’s husband said the family members’ reactions to the 34-foot tower surprised him the most.
“All those spouses jumped and no one screamed,” said Warsop. “Everybody jumped with a smile on their face.”
The encouragement from her husband and best friend is what helped Hailey throughout the day’s challenges.
“When you have your battle-buddies, you need that encouragement and that push to just keep going,” she said. “I think with him being there, it made me feel comfortable. I like that he was there.”
For Williams, who led the participants through each event, the day was a success.
“The spouses did a great job,” she said. “They were definitely motivated and I’m glad they got something out of it.”
To finish the day, the battalion held their usual close-of-week formation. Led by Williams, the platoon of family members took their place in front of the formation to receive a round of applause from their battalion.
After a brief recap of the day’s events, Lt. Col. Shawn Schuldt, commander of the 407th, said it was a great day for the Griffin family.
“Family is very, very important,” he said. “Like the backs of their T-shirts say, ‘Spouses Are Strength.’”