Blackhawk family members build camaraderie, understanding through military-style competition
June 16, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Much like their Soldier counterparts in the dessert, spouses of the 172nd Infantry Brigade dodged bullets, marched with weapons and practiced their shots June 3 during brigade's Spouses' Shootout Challenge.
The day-long event took place at Camp Aachen in Grafenwoehr, and while several bruises, paint splatters, and sweat stains were evident after the challenge, participants cheered and clapped with enthusiasm for each other during the final awards ceremony.
The children of the brigade joined forces June 6 for a similar event, the Wee-EIB.
This event, at Camp Heritage in the Grafenwoehr Training Area, boasted a huge turnout and children left with not only bumps, tousled hair and painted faces, but a sense of accomplishment.
The brigade brought the family members together in these two events to build camaraderie and morale.
During the day of the Spouses' Shootout, 17 teams of four battled it out in three events: marksmanship on a life-like weapons simulator, a road march that included a stretcher obstacle course and a paintball range where the team clashed with a pair of snipers while trying to retrieve a flag.
"These three events should provide some fun, a little bit of hardship and some good competition for the spouses," Lt. Col. Eric Stetson, Task Force Shield rear detachment commander, said before the day's games began.
During the paintball competition, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment's rear detachment commander, Cpt. Matt McGraw even gave the 2-28 spouses a little incentive.
McGraw offered a 20 Euro certificate to the Day Spa on post to whoever could shoot sniper 1st Sgt. Robert Ogborn, 2-28 rear detachment first sergeant, above the neck on his helmet.
Laura Gettys was one of two spouses who achieved a head shot and won the Day Spa certificate during the paintball challenge.
"I was totally excited ... I talked some trash before paintball so I knew what the mission was ahead of me - and that was to take him out," Gettys said.
"My team did great ... Without Irma and Roxanne cheering me on I could have sat down and quit, but just like everyday military life, it's the wives' supporting each other and cheering us on to make it through those tough moments," Gettys added.
Rebecca Sinclair, 172nd In. Bde. Family Readiness Group leader, and one of the coordinators behind the event, explained that the Shootout created camaraderie among the spouses.
She also explained how that it affects the Soldiers downrange.
"The Soldiers downrange love to see their spouses active and having a great time, so we made sure that we took tons of pictures to send out," Sinclair said.
"It's really to send all the spouses that want to participate into the summer on a high note, to build morale, cohesion and team-work between the spouses through this event," added Stetson, "and to give them a little insight into some of the things their Soldiers have done as part of their training."
At the conclusion of the Spouses' Shootout, an awards ceremony took place at Motor pool 11 at Camp Aachen. "Each and every participant was given a certificate to take home," Sinclair said.
First, second, and third place awards were given to winning teams in each event.
Only a few short days after the Spouses' Shootout, the "Wee-EIB," or Wee-Expert Infantry Badge, was held for children of all ages.
More than ninety children participated, battling the elements and gaining insight into what their parent trained for before deploying.
"I know that all the kids had a great time even with the rain," Sinclair said.
The Wee-EIB had seven stations in all consisting of face camouflage, drill and ceremony, a one-rope bridge, call for fire, confidence course, water balloon assault course and land navigation.
"We just want them to have fun and experience a little bit of military culture," Stetson explained of the event challenges.
Wee-EIB participant, Kevin Spillman explained what he thought his father did down range and what he hoped to do during the event.
"Hopefully to do most of the Army things ... I think my dad does shooting, running, and I think I might get to experience what my mom did on Wednesday ... She had to do the run with the rifle," Spillman said.
"Today is all about supporting the families of the 172nd In. Bde. ... about having fun for the kids. Giving them a little taste of what their mothers and fathers do on a daily basis downrange," Cpt. Matt McGraw, officer in charge of the event said.
To conclude the events of the Wee-EIB, a bonfire was held and every participat received a "Junior Expert Infantryman's Badge" certificate.
More photos of the Spouses' Shootout and Wee-EIB can be found at the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr flicker page, www.flickr.com/photos/usaggrafenwoehr.