Conference gives wives a chance to experience their Soldiers' training
May 15, 2009
- Conference gives wives a chance to experience their Soldiers' training
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Michelle Mulholland, 22, stood at the jump tower just after 10 a.m., Friday, one of 48 participants in "Soldier for a Day," the second leg of the Military Spouses Day Conference.
The conference, part of a Fort Bragg Army Community Service tribute, took place May 7 and 8.
All the slots for the conference were filled, said Cathy Mansfield, volunteer services coordinator.
Fort Bragg began celebrating Military Spouse Day in 2001 as a one-day conference, but expanded it to two days in 2007 to incorporate the "Soldier for a Day" activity.
Day one consisted of workshops such as basic self-defense and gardening. Day two included the jump tower, and engagement skills and obstacle course activities.
"This just gives them a taste of the actual physical demands that a Soldier has to go through every day," Mansfield said.
1st Lt. Roger Mulholland, 25, of 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, was looking forward to his wife's adventures.
Married for a year, he said the conference would give Michelle "a better idea of some of the training that we do."
Michelle said she had previously jumped from higher heights and was not afraid of the tower. "I'm not scared because I've jumped out of tall things before," she said. "It's adventurous and I wanted to see what my husband does just a little bit."
But, even as she donned jump gear, Michelle wondered if she were wearing it properly.
"It's kind of uncomfortable, but it's probably worth it," she said. "It feels as though I can barely stand up straight."
"If it's uncomfortable, then it's probably right," her husband said to her.
At 11:38 a.m., Michelle tilted her head, stretched her arms and swung toward the recovery area.
"It was fun, but it was scary jumping off," she admitted. "You have to jump into the distance."
For Morgan Savant, the fear was a little more obvious. As she approached the jump off, Savant stepped back and said, "Wait, I (have) got to breathe."
After Savant had completed the jump, she said, "That was fun. I want to do it again."
Mulholland said he learned something valuable about his wife, Michelle, at the Engagement Skills Training building.
"I'd want her in my platoon," said the Farmington, Utah native, after watching her kill six guys using an M-16 while everyone else killed one or two, he said.
At the EST, spouses also fired a 50-caliber machine gun.
Sarah Stearman is married to Air Force Capt. Tim Stearman, of the 2nd Airlift Squadron. She said she preferred the M-16 to the 50-caliber.
"It was pretty awesome," Sarah said. "It was kind of hard to judge where it was going to go, but once you figured it out, it was easy."
Tarolyn Thrasher, 32, was anticipating the obstacle course. "I need the workout," said the Florida native.
"I want to see how she feels after she gets done," said her husband, Sgt. Amin Thrasher, 35, of the 27th Engineer Battalion, 264th Clearance Company.
Tarolyn was one of the first spouses to fashion a Swiss Rappel Seat at Range 85.
"It looks cool, but it doesn't feel good," she quipped.
At the range, spouses tackled the rappel incline, high rappel tower, swing stop, belly over and the low crawl, among others.
"They've been absolutely wonderful," said Command Sgt. Maj. Robin Sheehan, Fort Bragg Garrison command sergeant major. "They are so motivated to go above and beyond any expectation that we have."
Estefany Alborz aced the belly over, an apparatus that required her to push herself over a log, primarily using upper body strength.
"This one was easy," said the Santa Barbara, Calif. native. "It wasn't that bad. The jump tower was hard."
The low crawl was a challenge, said Susan Dailey, wife of Pfc. Jason Dailey, assigned to 4th Psychological Operations Group, 8th Psychological Operations Battalion. "Half the length would've been much better," she said. "It was tough. It was the hardest thing today."
By the smiles and happy chatter, it seems the day was a success. There is already a waiting list for next year's Military Spouse Day, Mansfield said.
Military Spouse Day is a learning experience for Soldiers and their Families.
"What it does is it shows how much we depend on our Families," Sheehan said. "They are so strong, not just mentally, but physically."