News: Augusta community gets a feel for life in Army boots
Story by Sgt. Ashley Cohen
FORT GORDON, Ga.—Eight Augusta managers, directors and CEOs traded their business suits for Army Combat Uniforms, their briefcases for rucksacks, and stepped out of their offices and homes onto a military training field for a two-day experience as U.S. Army Soldiers during an ‘Augusta in Army Boots’ event at Fort Gordon, June 10-11.
The event is available several times a year and aims to create opportunity for Augusta community members to hone their leadership skills while gaining tactical knowledge while encouraging mutual respect and understanding.
“This event is an excellent opportunity for us to continue to build our relationship with our community and provide community leaders an opportunity to experience the importance of what we do as well as the impact of their support for our Soldiers and families,” said 1st Lt. Kashmir M. Rhymes, the officer-in-charge of the event, and plans OIC for Headquarters and Headquarters Company 67th Signal Battalion (Expeditionary), 35th Signal Brigade (Theater Tactical), the organization who sponsored the event.
Each community member was paired with a Soldier to guide them through various warrior tasks and battle drills including; react to an Improvised Explosive Device, react to an ambush, and break contact using basic movement techniques for individual and squad size elements.
“You always hear that the military is structured for a reason this gave me a sense of why that is.” said Kim R. Asbell, Director of Advanced Clinicals at Doctors Hospital of Augusta. “It was an interesting adventure being able to experience what the military goes through. It makes it real and gives you that kind of understanding that you can only get from real life experience.”
Adorned in military gear, the participants low-crawled through mud and sand, busted through doors to clear buildings, familiarized with an assault rifle and learned some basics of Modern Army Combatives and Combat Life-Saver.
“Besides the rucksack, the most challenging part for me was the low-crawl. I kept asking, ‘Are we there yet?”Asbell said with a chuckle. “I gained a real appreciation for what they do on a day-to-day basis.”
The community members were afforded a realistic military training experience while staying the night in tents at the Regimental Noncommissioned Officer Academy Forward Operating Base where they witnessed the true meaning of adaptability.
“When the thunder and lightning started we had to pack-up and move out all of a sudden,” said Asbell about a storm that hit them during their stay at the FOB. “It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t scheduled, and it was exactly like what the military goes through. That ended up being my favorite because I got to experience what Soldiers really experience when things aren’t choreographed.”
Even though the program focused on training community members, it also provided a unique experience for the Soldiers who sponsored them.
“I just love her. She’s so funny,” said Staff Sgt. Jeanette J. Natta, platoon sergeant, Bravo Company, 67th ESB, 35th TTSB, about the friendship she gained with Asbell who she sponsored. “It was so awesome to be able to use my skills and knowledge, and share it with someone who really wanted to learn. It definitely helped teach me patience and helped shape me into a better leader.”
During a graduation ceremony the participants relived their accomplishments in a commemorative video and were awarded the gold bar of a second lieutenant on a hat presented to them by Col. Robert L. Edmonson II, commander of 35th TTSB, and Col. Samuel G. Anderson, garrison commander of Fort Gordon.
“I would recommend it to anyone. It’s a great leadership experience. When I go back to the hospital I can use what I’ve learned, like how important it is to take command of a situation and not let it get out of hand. Sure everyone has an opinion and everyone has limitations, but you work around it,” said Asbell of what her takeaways were. “I definitely have a sense of pride after going through it. It was well worth the time and effort.”
Augusta in Army Boots has several events throughout the year and the next is scheduled for October 2014. For more information contact the program coordinator and U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Gordon’s Chief of Community Engagements, Alia Naffouj, at (706) 791-1871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.