Cacti Spouse Day
November 29, 2010
"Sweetie, pull back on the charging handle!!" "Is that this thingie right here'" This was only a small example of dialogue from "Spouse Day", held by 3rd Battalion, 25th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division on Nov 20, here.
Spouse Day was designed to allow the spouses of "Cacti" Battalion's infantry Soldiers to get a taste of what their husbands go through on a daily basis. Spouses were given the chance to learn room-clearing procedures and apply them in a shoot house, shoot an M-4 Automatic Rifle, an M249 SAW and endeavor an obstacle course.
"This helps me to understand what he goes through each day," said Ida Bluhm, wife of Cpt. Christopher Bluhm, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. "It gives me a new respect for what he does when he comes to work. It is definitely much different than what an average person does when they go to work each day. It's a lot harder, it definitely doesn't compare."
Wives were given a block of instruction on each of the infantry tasks they got to experience, then awkwardly donned their husband's combat helmet and vest and set off to live the Infantry man's life for a day.
Husbands were given the opportunity to monitor their spouses from the observation deck of the shoot house, the first infantry task for the day, where they were unleashed to practice their room clearing procedures against an elusive "enemy", portrayed by a different team of Army spouses. Spouses were given an M4 with blank ammunition for the event.
Teams consisted of spouses from each company, who showed their company pride by wearing face paint, pink bandanas or company t-shirts.
Husbands showed support for their wives during their room clearing procedures by yelling helpful pointers.
"Run honey! The enemy is going to shoot you if you don't keep moving!"
"Keep your weapon down at the low ready until you are ready to shoot, sweetie!"
"Keep under cover! Don't stay in the open, babe!"
Although Infantry training is usually not peppered with cute pet names, and conjoling tones, the girls of Cacti still felt the burn of fatigue from practicing procedures while wearing combat gear and carrying a weapon.
"I didn't really realize how heavy their gear was," said Jonna Janzen, wife of Cpl. Josh Janzen, Bravo Co., Cacti Battalion. "We've only been doing this for a couple of hours and I am already drained! I don't see how he does this all day everyday!"
The role reversal was effective and couples came away from the day with new bonds to strengthen them for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in April.
"I really realize how brave these guys are, and how brave they will have to be when they put all this practice we are learning today into real life," said Allison McCleary, wife of Lt. Jarrod McCleary. "I really look up to this guy!"
"You know it feels good to be able to get out here today and support her, rather than it being the other way around," said Lt. McCleary.
"We saw this as an opportunity to really give back to our spouses for all they do for us," said Lt. Col. Tuley, Cacti battalion commander. "This has been a good bonding and training experience for our spouses, who give so much to support us."
"This has been a good experience," said Lt. McCleary. "Not just for us and our marriage, but for our battalion family as well."