PFC Zuniga, left, and SPC Quarles transform SFC Mercer from an NCO into a chainsaw wielding monster.

U.S. Army/photo

The soldiers and officers of the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion transformed their offices and supply cages into dens of horror, giving children and adults a haunted Halloween as they celebrated Fall Fest.

Super heroes were brought to tears by monsters hiding in the darkness and the screams of tortured, bloodied victims of scientific experiments gone horribly wrong. Zombies roamed and a chainsaw-wielding beast ran amok.

Fall Fest was not all tears and terror, however.

Spc. LaVern Smith dressed as a monk and offered the terrified children some serenity as he grilled hot dogs. Kids collected candy and had games to play. Pfc. Timothy Patrick supervised as they heaved darts in an effort to pop balloons taped to a wall. Though he had no previous experience in operating a dart game, he was doing a good job.

“The kids are having fun,” he said.

Maj. Chris Forrest entered his concoction into the chili cook-off. He was not optimistic when asked what he figured the odds of his chili coming out on top were.

“I’m sure they’re very low,” he said.

The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Darlene Straub, offered a three-day pass to the company with the most effective haunted house. Bravo Company, known as the “Outlaws,” took the top prize.

Tears started flowing as soon as youngsters entered the front door and encountered a mad scientist at work and a desperate victim pleading for help.

Spc. Mary Kirby and Spc. Gabriel Winkler explained the secrets to their company’s success.

They had lots of blood and lots of people enthusiastic about participating, they said.

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