FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Performing weddings, providing counseling, retreats and religious services, this is what many people think of when asked what their Unit Ministry Team does. While these things are an important part of their duties, it is not all they do.
Members of UMTs across Fort Wainwright, Alaska, recently put their soldiering skills on display when 13 chaplains and chaplain’s assistants represented Fort Wainwright Alaska Garrison, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and five different battalions from Fort Wainwright in a nine-event competition that focused on soldier skills during the post’s first UMT competition, June 6.
One of the participants, Sgt. Eddie E. Taylor, chaplain’s assistant with 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, said he thought the event was important to help UMTs keep their soldiering skills sharp.
“At any moment we could be called to do something well outside of our [daily duties] so it’s good to know exactly how to do it and what to do,” said Taylor, a Fort Walton Beach, Fla., native.
The teams started the day with a pushup and situp event and continued in three more timed events: reading a map and plotting points, providing a description of what would be found at each point; performing preventative maintenance checks and services on a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle according to the vehicle’s technical manual; and loading a frequency into a multi-channel ground radio, and performing a radio check. Team members rushed from one station to the next, appearing confident in their ability to complete each task, slowing down only when faced with the loading the radio.
“I’m most nervous about the radio,” said Sgt. Kimberly Pass, chaplain’s assistant for 1/25 SBCT.
After completing the first four events, each team put on their ruck sacks and foot marched approximately a half a mile to the Northern Lights Chapel to perform two tasks specific to their military occupational specialty.
Inside the chapel, each team was graded for accuracy as they set up a memorial ceremony while answering question about details of the ceremony. Outside the chapel, teams were given a tactical scenario and were graded on setting up a field service with enemy presence. Each team then performed a timed 2.3-mile foot march to the next event, evaluating a casualty and radioing for a medical evacuation in a tactical setting.
The final event in the competition was an additional timed 1.9-mile foot march to the Last Frontier Community Activities Center, where participants were given a final surprise event: a game of laser tag.
Staff Sgt. Denise Monroe, 1/25 SBCT chaplain’s assistant, organized the competition and said she was excited to see all the teams learn something while having a good time.
“We don’t always get this opportunity,” said Monroe, a Crown Point, Ind. native. “I think it’s really important that they keep their skills fresh.”
At the end of the day the scores were tallied and the team representing 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, consisting of Capt. Jose Serrano, Sgt. Brett Roberts and Pfc. Daniel Gibbs, took home first place.