Paratroopers for a day: 'G.I. Jane' event gives wives a glimpse of Army training
January 25, 2011
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska --The cold justified the use of every single layer of Arctic gear issued to paratroopers in Alaska. It was to be a full day of snowshoeing, jumping from a 34-foot airborne training tower, and training at a military shooting range. This full day of training wasn't for Soldiers though, it was for their wives.
Thirty-one wives of soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, took part Jan. 14 in G.I. Jane Day, a chance to experience some of what their soldiers go through on a regular basis.
The events began with a class by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Lothspeich of B Co., 3-509th, on preventing cold weather injuries.
The wives fully suited up in a mix of civilian gear and their husbands' cold weather uniforms and broke into four teams to conduct a competitive snowshoe foot march to their first objective: jumping a 34-foot airborne training tower.
Lt. Col. Shawn Daniel, 3-509th battalion commander, encourage the visiting spouses as they mustered the courage to leap from the tower, while two jumpmasters from the battalion ensured maximum safety.
"You don't have to jump if you don't want to. This is just for fun," Daniels said "But this is something you'll remember forever if you do it."
With a little more encouragement and a few friendly jeers from her husband in civilian clothing below, the wife exited the tower and screamed out a loud "Geronimo!"
The wives rode LMTVs, or large military transport vehicles, to Biathlon Range for a quick MRE lunch.
"I can't believe you guys eat this stuff," said one of the wives to her husband as she struggled to finish her egg-and-cheese omelet meal.
As the teams finished their food they were introduced to the next leg of their adventure, dragging a loaded Ahkio sled down and back up a steep frozen hill.
Dena Daniel said she and her husband, 3-509th battalion commander Lt. Col. Shawn Daniel, came up with the idea for G.I. Jane Day.
"I wanted to do something with the women of the unit like we used to do at other duty stations," she said. "Fort Benning had the 'Downey Mile' and I really think it helped improve the morale of both the wives and their husbands, especially once they were able to experience firsthand exactly what their husbands go through in a given work day."
The battalion has already experienced some positive feedback on its Facebook page
"I had so much fun at GI Jane day! Thank you for that amazing experience. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the other wives as well as to get a unique glimpse at what my husband does. I have a new appreciation for everything servicemen and women do. Thanks again!" wrote one participant.