FORT HOOD — Texas legislators fired M-4 assault rifles, rode in Black Hawk helicopters and toured training facilities Friday during the annual legislative day hosted by the post.
“This is always a fun day,” said state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen. “It’s great to share it with our fellow members.”
Dozens of lawmakers and their staff members got a firsthand glimpse of the sprawling Army fort, visiting III Corps Headquarters, the Close Combat Tactical Trainer and the Engagement Skills Trainer, a facility where soldiers fire rifles and machine guns at a videogame-style projection screen. The guns look and feel like real weapons, but instead project an ultraviolet light that produces a “hit” on the screen.
After watching soldiers demonstrate, the legislators let the fake bullets fly, lighting up insurgents on the screens.
“I loved it,” Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said. “This is really a great way to train.”
Corbin and the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce helped host the 132 people on the tour, answering questions and passing out red, white, blue and camouflaged baseball hats.
“It’s a great way to make sure they understand what goes on in our community,” said Corbin, a Vietnam veteran who fired real assault rifles back in the 1960s.
Fort Hood’s 1st Cavalry Division and 3rd Cavalry Regiment had Stryker and Bradley armored fighting vehicles and an M1A2 battle tank on display. Soldiers from the units answered questions about the vehicles.
“I think it’s a great thing for them to come out and see what we do,” said Spc. Tyler Gilmore, an infantryman with 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. “I wish they did this more often.”
Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, said the tour will give legislators a greater understanding of what the post does and “the economic impact Fort Hood has on this area.”
When items concerning Fort Hood and the military appear at the state Capitol, “these legislators will have seen firsthand the issues affecting soldiers,” Sheffield said.
Tammy Nickles, director of programming for the chamber, said the chamber passed out more than 100 hats, and also picked up the legislators from Austin in chartered buses.
“It’s just a great way for our legislators to visit our community and see Fort Hood,” she said.
The daylong tour began with a speech from III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley. Legislators boarded four Black Hawk helicopters for an aerial view of the post, and the tour ended with a 5 p.m. social at Club Hood.