News: Families members get ‘Boots on the Ground’
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - For new spouses grasping the concept of military acronyms such as PCS [Permanent Change of Station] can be stressful enough, but learning that their soldier will be gone for 30 days to conduct field training or deploying for 12 months can sometimes elevate the pressures of their new lifestyle.
Families sometimes are not sure exactly what their soldier does on a daily basis here, at Yakima Training Center, or on deployment Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment invited families and friends along for a day of “soldiering” on May 20, 2011.
“We planned a day of activities to make family members and friends feel a part of what their soldier achieves daily,” said Capt. Jason Halligan, company commander. “Our family readiness group is dedicated to the soldiers and families of the [Torch] Company.
Torch Company’s FRG plans an event each month, but this is it’s first time planning a “Bring Your Family to Work.”
The families and soldiers fell in at 6:30 a.m. for Physical Readiness Training, which included a demonstration of the preparatory and core drills, followed by five repetitions of each exercise.
“We wanted to keep the workout light and fun”, added Halligan.
The formation moved to the rifle range, where Torch Company offered participants the opportunity to fire the M9 Pistol, M4 Rifle and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Everyone fired one full magazine for each weapon they fired.
“Safety was the most important aspect of the weapons training,” said Halligan.
Coordination for the range was done through the range control officer and a waiver had to be signed prior to firing. All participants at the range had to be at least 12 years of age.
Prior to firing there was a safety briefing and demonstration of how each of the weapon systems are operated. As the line formed non-commissioned officers of the company, known as safety officers who made the participants feel at ease, guided the anxious yet nervous participants.
There was an NCO at each foxhole to load the weapon and assist the firer through the basic techniques. After participants fired they were escorted in typical range fashion to observe their target so they could access the damage. Once the participants finished their target observation they either stood in line for another chance to fire or learned about the Stryker vehicles that were displayed at the range.
“I was nervous about shooting the weapons but my husband being by my side helped me relax,” said Kristine Moreno, whose husband is Spc. Pelayo Moreno, has been in the torch company since February.
At the completion of the range the soldiers and their guest proceeded to the company area where they enjoyed a picnic style lunch. Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation provided two colorful bouncy houses that were provided for the kids to play.
The company’s single soldiers, not to be left out of the fun, participated in games such as tug-of-war, three-legged race and a cupcake eating contest.
“This event was well planned and should be done more often and with more units across the Army,” said Kristine.
An awards ceremony in the company area concluded the day’s festivities.
“Our goal is for family members to gain an appreciation for what the soldiers do,” said Halligan. “We want to continue to build the unit’s cohesion with the soldier’s support system in accordance as well.
Ensuring that soldier’s family and friends understand the work ethic and dedication that it takes to remain mission capable is key, and events such as this assist in those efforts.