Experience 101: Engineer and Marine spouses spend a day in warriors' boots
May 17, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Last Friday, many of Fort Leonard Wood's military spouses found out what life can be like for their service members.
During the 1st Engineer Brigade Spouses Day event and Jane Wayne Day, hosted by the Marine Corps Detachment, these Family members had the chance to try out military training for themselves.
A dozen spouses participated in the 1st Engineer Brigade Spouses Day. They started the day with Physical Readiness Training, led by the Brigade Commander, Col. Alan Webster, at 6:30 a.m. Then, Webster briefed them on the 1st Engineer Brigade's history, structure and mission.
"What I was surprised by was ... (that) engineers encompass firefighters, scuba diving," said Raquel Hertig, one of the spouses in attendance. "When I think 'engineers' I just think (of) building bridges and buildings. So I thought that was kind of cool."
In the afternoon, the spouses went through the Physical Endurance Confidence Course at Training Area 97 that many of their husbands or wives went through during Basic Combat Training.
At the confidence course, Jessica Chrismon was among the spouses that tried every obstacle available.
"It was fun just to do the obstacle course. Some (obstacles) are tough, kind of scary. The Berlin Wall was definitely the scariest," she said, referring to a slanted wooden wall she had to scale using only a rope. "It's a great way to meet people, too," she added.
During the final event of the day, the spouses tried operating engineer equipment, including the Class 70 Assault Breacher Vehicle and Army Combat Earthmover.
This is the second Spouses Day event hosted by the 1st Engineer Brigade, Webster said.
"The real intent of this is for folks to see what their Soldiers do … for a better understanding of what the Army does and what we as engineers do," Webster said.
It was also created to honor spouses and show appreciation for their support -- a fitting goal, considering the event was held on Military Spouse Appreciation Day.
"The only reason any of us stay in the military is because of our Families and because of their support, so this is one way to pay some of that back," Webster said.
JANE WAYNE DAY
Twenty-one Marine spouses, many sporting combat boots and camouflage, participated in the annual Jane Wayne Day event Friday.
Before they headed out for training, Marine Col. Nancy Springer, Marine Corps detachment commander, spoke to the group.
"This is one of our more popular events throughout the year," Springer said. "This is the one day that we're able to kind of give you a little glimpse of what your Marine does and why he's so happy being a Marine -- why he comes to work every day and he's all charged up."
The day's activities represented each of the three Marine Detachment schools here: Military Police School, Motor Transportation School and Engineer School.
First, the spouses had shotgun familiarization training at the MP School. Next, they used the Motor Transportation School's driving simulators.
The simulators were the reason Nean Duran and Victoria Falcon attended Jane Wayne Day.
"Our husbands are truck drivers, so we want to see what they have to teach," Duran said.
After they used one of the simulators, Duran said she was surprised by the amount of work it was to drive a truck, even on the computer screen.
"Now we understand a little bit more," she said.
In the final training event, the spouses had the chance to drive backhoes and bulldozers, with the help of equipment operators from the Marine Engineer School.
According to Harry Bailey, Family readiness officer for the Marine Corps Detachment, Jane Wayne Day is designed to develop resiliency in Marine Corps spouses by giving them an understanding of their Marine's job.
"I'm constantly amazed at how little our spouses know lots of times about where their husbands work, what the training area looks like, and where they are and what they do," Bailey said. "So, to be able to bring spouses out and see what their husbands do on a day-to-day basis (and) explore some of the Marine Corps tasks and functions that we do here on Fort Leonard Wood is pretty enlightening for the spouses and it helps them gain an appreciation that allows them to communicate better with their spouses."
"It's also an opportunity for the detachment to showcase what we do, and it's an excellent opportunity for the spouses to build camaraderie amongst themselves," he added. "Not many of us have Family in this area, so the Marine Corps becomes our Family."