Black Dragon Soldiers dominate obstacle course with Crossroads students
April 12, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas--Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, competed against students from their adopted school at the Phantom Warrior Confidence and Obstacle Course Apr. 5.
Students from Crossroads High School spent the day taking on new challenges and showcasing their ability to complete the obstacles in fewer attempts than the Soldiers.
"We have events with our adopted school to help build esprit de corps," said Command Sgt. Major Calvin Coler, senior enlisted advisor to 5th Bn., 82nd FA Reg.
"We are trying to build confidence in these students. Some of these students' parents are in the military, but they are not around Soldiers enough to see the camaraderie, motivation and discipline they have," said Coler, a native of New Orleans.
In two groups, "Black Dragon" Soldiers of 5th Bn., 82nd FA Reg. and high school students from the adopted school took on obstacles with names like "The Tough One" and the "Reverse Climb."
"This was actually fun," said Michael Griggs, a Crossroads student. "I enjoyed myself and it was a nice workout."
Griggs who dominated many of the obstacles with little effort stated," The hardest part was getting to the top of the obstacle because I'm afraid of heights."
Griggs was referring to the obstacles that were nearly 13 feet high.
A native of Copperas Cove, Griggs added, "I feel appreciated. They (the Soldiers) didn't have to take time out of their day to spend with us."
Black Dragon Soldiers of all ranks and military occupational specialties truly enjoyed the opportunity to spend a day with the students.
"Its nice to see them having fun. Its gives you that personal satisfaction to know whether I influenced a lot or not, I was part of something and maybe it helped one of these kids,'" said Spc. Eric Vasquez, a field artilleryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery. "They're putting in effort and when they actually succeed, you can see them gain confidence," said Vasquez, a native of Coachella, Calif.
"This obstacle course is challenging for everybody regardless of what shape you are in," added Vasquez, who was exhausted himself from the day's challenges.
As a part of the Adopt-A-School Program, Soldiers take time out of their daily routines to spend it with students in the local area. From elementary to high schools, Fort Hood Soldiers not only have fun days like at the obstacle course but, they also tutor students and help out with their school functions such as Book Fairs.
"I feel that it's good because we can help set the example for the students," said Staff Sgt Brandon Blackmon, the career counselor for 5th Bn., 82nd FA Reg. "The school that we have now is an alternative school and it is the perfect school to have for Soldiers to go down and show how they have changed as they grew up and set the example as men and women. I invited the kids to give them a challenge and help them build teamwork. It's all about giving back."
"We have study groups with the students. We talk to them about life. We are sort of like a Big Brother, Big Sister Program," added Blackmon, a native of Dallas.
After finishing the obstacle course, Soldiers and students enjoyed pizza for lunch and got to know each other a little better. The day together drawing to an end, it was just one of many the Soldiers would share with the high school students.
Coler had some lasting words to share with the Crossroads High School students, "I would tell them to keep their heads up. Many of them have been through some kind of obstacle in their life and I relate it to the obstacles out here. Once you get over it, its over. You finished it."