JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - Thousands of commuters pass Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, every day - never knowing for sure what complex training occurs on the post.
For one member of the Vancouver Executives Association, that all changed Sept. 30 with a tour of JBLM.
"I've lived here all my life," said Nick Carulli, president of the VEA. "I'd never seen the inside of an Army base, and I never knew it was this big and this impressive."
Carulli and 22 other members of the association learned a little more about military life through their visit. The executives began their day by receiving briefs about JBLM and the capabilities of I Corps. During the briefs they showed interest in the inner working of the post and asked questions on the global responsibilities of a corps level entity.
After receiving the overview, the members took a daylong tour of JBLM, which included interactive displays of military vehicles and equipment, a tour of the Mission Training Complex, a facility that offers JBLM units a multitude of training options, and a lunch in one of the post's dining facilities.
Soldiers were able to share their stories about using certain weapon systems in combat. The executives huddled around Staff Sgt. Allan Avendano, section chief in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, to hear his experiences firing an M777A2 howitzer while deployed to Afghanistan.
Avendano said he enjoyed showing the group the basic functions and capabilities of the howitzer.
"It gives these guys a more in depth look at the equipment and what we do," he said. "Instead of just seeing a vehicle or equipment on (Interstate Highway 5), they get to see the training we do."
Carulli said the experience has only reaffirmed his belief in the military.
"It's been amazing," he said. "We've been treated like royalty and everyone's really nice to us. Showing us all this stuff, it's been really amazing."
The executives learned a little more about the military and the service members were able to connect a little bit with the surrounding community, Avendano said.
"I think a lot of the guys here are with big companies in Vancouver, and they like to hire vets," he said. "It gives them a chance to connect and see what's going on with the Army."