FORT HOOD, Texas -- When the United States Military Academy rugby team
planned its spring break, First Army Division West Soldiers helped arrange a
tour for the players, including exhibition games played at local
universities.

The players also soaked up valuable leadership experience from Fort Hood
officers and noncommissioned officers, who provided insight on leadership as
it relates to rugby and life.

First Army mobilizes, trains, deploys and demobilizes all Army National
Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces throughout the continental United States,
providing trained and ready forces for diverse missions worldwide.

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 Jeff Ferebee, the rugby team captain, 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 to it someday."

Two social highlights were scheduled on their tour. First, there was dinner
at the home of a 1982 United States Military Academy graduate, Division West
Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr.

The dinner included barbecue brisket, pork, smoked sausage, corn casserole,
and beans. "It was such a high-class meal by a high-class staff," Ferebee
said. "It was an awesome taste of Texas. We don't get to have food like that
all the time."

Later, the team gathered at a local 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
(WTB), where wounded Soldiers are taken care of. "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 WTB.

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 said he was overwhelmed that so
many senior NCOs took the time to teach him and his fellow cadets, while
making them feel at home. "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 our rugby scores every
time we come through the gate. It's just been a humbling and great
experience to see how much people here care."

Page last updated Wed March 26th, 2014 at 11:37