By Alicia Lacy
Killeen Daily Herald
Every year, units across Fort Hood host an organization day for soldiers based on the three Fs - family, fun and food.
Organization days are designed to boost morale by giving soldiers a day off to spend time with their families.
Earlier this month, the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment hosted organization days for their units.
For 1st Cavalry soldiers, the day was a time for soldiers to unwind from everyday Army duties. But for regiment troopers, the day was a time to spend with their families before they begin their deployment to Iraq in the next few months.
"It's a day for soldiers to come out with families and enjoy camaraderie with competitiveness," said Capt. Nathan Kroger, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Cabrera Sr. is set to assume responsibility of the battalion Thursday.
Cabrera attended the unit's organization day with his wife, Shelly, to meet soldiers with whom he'll be working.
"Organization day is a big morale booster," Cabrera said. "We ask so much of soldiers and their families."
There are about 500 soldiers in the battalion who are divided into one battery and three companies. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment has about 5,000 soldiers divided into five squadrons with 800 to 1,000 troopers in each squadron. The regiment traditionally hosts one organization day for the entire regiment, but because of the upcoming deployment, each of the squadrons were responsible for their own organization day.
Because soldiers are often busy training and going through rotations of deployments, organization day gives them a break with their families.
"We wanted kids and spouses to be involved in sports activities and the soldiers could all participate in at least one event," Kroger said.
Desiree and Michael Namoski sat under a tree and watched soldiers from the unit play "dragonball," the battalion's version of ultimate football.
Desiree said she enjoyed the event. "It means a lot to spend the day with him than be at home alone."
Chief Warrant Officer-2 Karry Merrick with Golf Company, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, attended the day with his children, Divinity, 9, and Tyrese, 11.
Merrick works throughout the week and when he gets home he's exhausted, so the opportunity to spend the time with his children was "outstanding."
Divinity said the day was terrific since her dad was gone for a year.
Sgt. 1st Class Mark Juliano, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, was charged with putting together the squadron's organization day. "One thing we try to focus on the most is to have a fun day and to get as many families and children out as possible."
"We spend a lot of time with each other. It's good for the families to intermingle and get to know each other," he added.
Spc. Corey Matthews, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and his wife, Adriana, enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time together.
Matthews recently returned from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and is preparing to deploy.
"Anytime I get to spend with her is valuable, but organization day is good because we get to socialize with others," Matthews said.
Both organization days included several activities centered on family, teamwork and camaraderie.
Lt. Col. Scott Gerber, 3rd squadron commander, was drenched in water with a Super Soaker in hand. "We've had a running water gun fight for the last 3 to 4 hours."
"With the operational tempo we got going on, it's an opportunity for everyone to come out and have fun. It's priceless."
Both units' organization days were sponsored by a different business: the battalion's by Toyota of Killeen and the regiment's by Killeen and Copperas Cove Walmart stores.
"We can't say how much the 5,000 soldiers of the regiment appreciate all the support form the community, especially from the Walmarts in Central Texas," said Col. Reginald Allen, the regiment's commander. "They helped with Christmas in July and are feeding more than 10,000 for squad-level organization days."
"I'm astounded at how well the Central Texas community supports us," Gerber said.
Contact Alicia Lacy at email@example.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.