By Mrs. Martha Yoshida (Leonard Wood)April 9, 2015
Loud blasts and smoke from the use of pyrotechnics are nothing new to Soldiers in training at Fort Leonard Wood; however, one group of Soldiers had the opportunity to make some noise in front of an audience of Family and friends.
Soldiers assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, held the installation's first Family Day rifle-squad demonstration and drill and ceremony competition April 1, where they fired off blank rounds from automatic infantry weapons like the M4, and launched smoke grenades on Training Area 93, as their guests observed.
According to 1st Sgt. Joshua Morgan, the company's first sergeant, this type of Family Day demonstration is common practice for infantry One Station Unit Training installations, like Fort Benning, Georgia; however, this was a first, that he was aware of, for Fort Leonard Wood.
"We did this because it highlights a number of the individual and collective tasks these Soldiers have been training so hard to become proficient at," he said.
The extra effort to hold the event was worth it to see the pride on the faces of both Soldiers and their Families, he added.
"Though this is a bit of extra work on our part to coordinate during an already hectic week of Basic Combat Training, it affords us the opportunities to both allow the Soldiers to demonstrate to their friends and Families what they can now accomplish after a mere 10 weeks of training and is also a chance to welcome those Family members into the Army team by allowing them to humanize what we do as an Army when they see their Soldier performing these tasks," Morgan said.
Veronica Scantling, one of the Family members who attended, said she drove 18 hours from New Jersey just to attend Family Day and to see Pvt. Kylah Thomas, her oldest granddaughter, graduate.
"It was worth it," Scantling said with pride. "She is our super star."
Scantling and other members of Thomas' Family commented that they noticed a change in her.
"I can see the discipline in her," Scantling added. "We are very proud her -- we're proud of all of them for sticking with it."
Pvt. Walker Crase, with 1st Platoon "Night Stalkers" said it was a great experience to see his Family and show them what he has learned in the last 10 weeks.
"For two-and-a-half months, I've had to have my game face on. I couldn't think about what it's like to be a civilian again; I'm a Soldier now." Crase said.
Other than having a father-in-law who was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in 1975, Amy Lindon, Crase's mom, said she does not have personal familiarity with the military, so the demonstration was especially helpful to her.
"It was nice to get a feel for what they do in training and get to see it," she said. "It was a pleasure to be involved and be one of the first groups of parents to see the demonstration."
As the chatter of Soldiers and Families reuniting took over the parade field, the unit's cadre interrupted with an announcement from the loud speaker that the 3rd Platoon "Rough Riders" won the drill and ceremony competition.
Rough Riders were awarded with a blue banner to wear, signifying that they have demonstrated the values and warrior ethos that are reached when the final phase, or blue phase, of BCT is completed.
Following the demonstration, Soldiers were dismissed to enjoy a few hours with their Families, and then they returned to their barracks to prepare for the next day's BCT graduation ceremony.