News: Texas hospitality for the troops of the 316th ESC
Story by Sgt. Peter Berardi
FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers of the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) currently conducting mobilization training at North Fort Hood, Texas were treated to some fantastic Texas hospitality organized by the First Baptist Church of Gatesville, Texas, May 13.
It was a nice sunny day for the 2012 Heart of Texas Salute to Warrior Citizens event that gave many soldiers of the 316th ESC a chance to unwind from the training conducted over the past couple of months at Fort Hunter Liggett and Fort Dix. The event included live country music, a free raffle for door prizes, horseshoes and a quarter ton of delicious barbecue.
One of the main organizers of the event, Diana Fincher a retired music teacher from Gatesville, was pleased with being able to have an event like this for the soldiers. For help with organizing the event on North Fort Hood Fincher worked with the North Fort Hood Chaplain Lt. Col. Paul Dirksmeyer. The event took months of planning and preparation by both Fort Hood and the church. During that time, Fincher and the First Baptist Church reached out to the local community and got over 50 volunteers to help out and over 30 local companies to sponsor the event. They received everything from the 300 pounds of brisket and 150 pounds of sausage, to live Texas longhorns, and even Clifton Jansky performing live music.
Diana Fincher said, “We knew that soldiers couldn’t leave post once they were here so we thought if they couldn’t experience Texas then we could bring Texas to them.” Fincher added, “We really just wanted to express our appreciation to the soldiers because they have chosen not to be with their families on Mother’s Day and that enables us to be with ours.”
Master Sgt. Raul Baird, an assistant inspector general with the 316th ESC and native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was glad that Texas came to the soldiers. “I got to meet Texas Rangers and see longhorns, I almost wanted to hitch a wagon and ride away with all the delicious food,” said Baird.
Sgt. Phong Le, a fueler with the 316th ESC and resident of Albany, N.Y., thought this event was great. “I never realized what true southern hospitality was until today,” said Le. “I think we needed this after all of the training over the past couple of months,” he added. Le wanted to tell the volunteers, “We really appreciate all of the people that put this together, it gave us a sense of home and that was nice.”
With the event winding down in the early evening, the soldiers helped the volunteers clean up the area and thanked them all for such a great time. Many soldiers of the 316th ESC that attended the event went back to the barracks with full stomachs and smiles on their faces, ready for the new training week to start.