JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - What do mortars, grenade launchers, Stryker vehicles, military working dogs, medical staff and air wing evacuation teams have in common, probably not much unless you are talking about Puget Sound Business Leaders, Executives and Veterans tour on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, June 18, 2015.
Several members of the Seattle Yacht Club and their families were hosted to an all-day event of military briefings, hands-on learning and live demonstrations highlighting just some of the many capabilities of the units at JBLM, all part of an ongoing partnership between the Soldiers of JBLM and their fellow community members.
"Although the main focus is on the Pacific, we have to be responsive to needs around the world." said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, deputy commanding general, I Corps. "The best thing we have that separates us from all the other militaries, is our noncommissioned officer corps, and you will get a chance to see that today."
Everett Johnson, from Bellevue, Washington, said he had been to JBLM on an earlier tour but liked it so much he came back for another round.
The tour started on the Army side of JBLM and included demonstrations from the cavalry troops with 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; the military working dog teams with 42nd Military Police Brigade, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and the medical teams with 62nd Medical Brigade, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
"When we arrived we were given an incredible tour," said Johnson. "Seeing the weapons and armament - I really liked that."
The infantry Soldiers displayed their diverse weapon systems and military vehicles, gave the guests a chance to hold some of the weapons and even load a training mortar to give them a better understanding of not only how heavy some of the equipment was but learn how all of the items played a role in the Soldiers missions.
They also demonstrated how an Army Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck wrecker recovers vehicles that become un-drivable.
Next, military working dog teams gave live demonstrations of the team's ability to search for people, narcotics or explosives, and how they can assist with apprehending criminals.
MWD handlers Staff Sgt. Adam Serella and Sgt. Jermaine Rocket along with MWD Gizmo, showed the guests something MWD handlers can do that other military police cannot.
Unlike most military policemen that carry only projectile weapons, MWD handlers have the ability to stop their "projectile" before it does any damage. They showed this by having a decoy suspect, Serella, flee from a crime. As the dog got close, Serella decided to surrender, at which time the dog was called off and sat right next to him just in case he decided to flee once more.
Being allowed to bite on the specially-designed sleeve the handlers use is a reward for the dogs and they only get it when they properly perform what they are told to do.
"He only gets his toys when he works," said Serella. "That's kind of like his paycheck."
The MWD team was followed by the medical staff who walked tour members through a surgical field tent and explained how treating patients with minor injuries to treating those needing life-saving surgeries was possible, even in the most unlikely of locations.
The Army side of the tour wrapped up with a military-style lunch at the award winning Courage Inn Dining Facility, where the visitors had a wide array of food to choose from. They had everything from fried catfish to barbeque ribs, hamburgers to freshly made sandwiches and for desert there were cookies, cakes and an ice cream sundae bar.
"We had an incredible lunch," said Johnson. "The food was superior and the company was even better."
After lunch the tour continued to the Air Force side where the group got to see the inside of a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, a large military transport aircraft that serves as the Air Force's primary strategic lift aircraft for global transport of troops and equipment.
While aboard the aircraft the tour witnessed a scenario of a patient evacuation loading drill followed by vehicle and equipment pallet loading procedures. After the demonstrations, everyone was invited to see what the cockpit looked like and ask any questions they may have had.
Johnson said he was kind of biased on what he liked the most on this tour due to the fact that he had visited the Army side on another tour and by the fact he was once a pilot.
"I really enjoyed seeing the C-17 and seeing them load and unload the aircraft," he said. "I enjoyed seeing how efficient and how quickly it's done."
The guests were given souvenirs to remind them of their trip and ended the day with a social mingling event where they were able to talk more with Service members and share stories about each other's jobs and their lives.