Paving the way to build total unit resiliency, First Army Division West’s 120th Infantry Brigade planned out some esprit de corps-building activities at Fort Hood on April 10-11 to help build cohesion.
Honoring the Month of the Military Child was the starting point. Under cold, gray weather, soldiers and their families trekked out for an imaginative Junior Expert Infantry Badge competition, with nearly 50 children signing up, ranging from 1 to 18 years old.
Going through a round robin of eight stations, the young competitors modeled themselves going after the Expert Infantry Badge, learning map reading, first aid, meals-ready-to-eat nutrition, individual and buddy movement, radio and weapons familiarization, camouflage and even a water balloon hand grenade toss.
While the actual EIB is a rigorous competition, Staff Sgt. Mark Sneed, a field artillery soldier and Sgt. 1st Class Travis Loest, an infantry non-commissioned officer, each set about planning the day by creating fun demonstrations for the kids.
As always, the thump of field artillery rounds could be heard off in the distant Fort Hood ranges as the youngsters endured a modified Army Physical Fitness Test, which included a run and sit-ups and pushups — still quite like how their soldier-parents start their early mornings.
Staff Sgt. Troy Graeve, an infantryman, ran the MRE station where he gave a terse overview of the 26 different kinds of field rations. Each child received an MRE, and the experience of eating what their parents have when they’re in the field. The playful advice to the kids: “Take the veggie burger, because it comes with a lot of candy inside.”
Sgt. 1st Class James Lengele and Sgt. 1st Class Benny Campbell, both field artilleryman, led the medical station. Looking back on how children responded to the training, Lengele said, “Everyone wants to wrap themselves up to look like a mummy.”
For their participation, each child received a certificate from Lt. Col. Randy Jimenez, the 2nd Battalion, 395th Field Artillery Regiment commander, and the battalion’s Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Perez. The children practiced the customary “grip-and-grin” photo opportunity before sitting down for one big group shot.
Gathering for some outdoor fun-in-the- sun, Fort Hood’s Clear Creek Golf Course saw some friendly competition.
Golf scrambles are no stranger to many of the units on post, but the beautiful sunny day, perfect temperature and unit togetherness seemed especially much-needed.
“It’s great team building, especially since some members can’t break away from work,” said 2nd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment Command Sgt. Maj. William Montgomery. “It’s also good because they get to see their leadership out there having fun with them.”