West Point rugby spends spring break touring Fort Hood
March 26, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas -- When the U.S. Military Academy rugby team planned its spring break, First Army Division West reached out to arrange a tour here, including some exhibition games at local universities.
The team also soaked up valuable leadership experience from Fort Hood officers and non-commissioned officers, who provided insight on leadership as it relates to both rugby and real life situations.
While visiting the motor pool at 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the rugby team was shown Abrams main battle tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.
"We have some armor guys and infantry guys who split off to their respective vehicles," said Cadet rugby Team Captain Jeff Ferebee of Primm Springs, Tenn. "We have been around these vehicles before, but they took us through the maintenance and the nitty-gritty."
On to the 1st Cavalry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade, the cadets toured the flight line where they were able to crawl around Apache, Black Hawk, and Chinook helicopters. "I am more interested in becoming an aviator, but I haven't gotten my branch yet," said Cadet Logan Pearce of North Royalton, Ohio.
"They took us to the flight simulator and I got to fly with that a little bit," Pearce continued. "It was everything I expected it to be. Of course, right now I can't understand what all the buttons, levers and pulleys mean, but I am looking forward it someday."
Two social highlights were scheduled on their tour: the first, a dinner at 1982 West Point graduate, and Div. West Commanding General Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr.'s on-post quarters.
The dinner at Phipps's home Texas-themed, with barbecue brisket, Kahlúa pork, smoked sausage, corn casserole and Texas style beans to name a few menu items. "It was such a high-class meal by a high-class staff," said Ferebee. "It was an awesome taste of Texas -- we don't get to have food like that all the time."
Later, the team gathered at Legends Pub with members of the Heart of Texas West Point Society, a non-profit alumni organization that links graduates, families and candidates in Central Texas.
The last stop on their tour was Fort Hood's Warrior Transition Battalion, where wounded Soldiers go to heal and transition. "West Point leadership felt the cadets needed to learn a little bit about what the WTU is about and it's good for our Soldiers as well," said Maj. Gustavo Diaz, operations officer for the Warrior Transition Battalion.
Cadet Cody Brown of Fayetteville, N.C., whose father was a Special Forces enlisted soldier, said he learned the importance of taking care of Soldiers, especially while at the WTB.
"Seeing the Wounded Warriors and the care that they need, I think is a big step forward for the Army," he said. "I've been able to talk to the staff here and pick up on their stories about how they take care of Soldiers. We are getting a lot of old wisdom from older NCOs, and that's what is important.
"My dad instilled in me, 'Listen to your NCOs and always take care of your Soldiers,' and that is getting reinforced by all of these NCOs. Hearing their stories excites me, because that's what leadership is all about."
Cadet team Vice Captain Aaron Bush of Dallas, Texas, said he was overwhelmed that so many senior NCOs took the time to teach him and his fellow cadets, while making them feel comfortable. "That had to be the most humbling aspect of the trip -- how people have opened up and responded to us being here.
"Even the Military Police are checking in on us as, asking us are rugby scores every time we come through the gate, so it's just been a humbling and great experience to see how much people here care."
Ferebee agreed and said there is no greater place than Fort Hood. "Being around real Soldiers in the real Army, this tour lets us see the light at the end of the tunnel."
West Point rugby won all exhibitions games at the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns (A side: 51-5, and B side 53-0); Baylor University Bears at Waco, Texas (A side,:79-5); and Texas A&M University Aggies at College Station, Texas (A side: 46-12, and B side 101-0).