By Mrs. Martha Yoshida (Leonard Wood)September 29, 2016
"Hey, team, hold up," the Soldier shouted. "We wait until everyone is through. Encourage the last person on. That's part of teamwork."
The boys turned around and ran back to support their fellow Scout as he made his way across the one-rope bridge at Fort Leonard Wood's Training Area 98 Saturday.
It was all part of a visit for Boy Scout Troop 854 from Wentzville, Missouri, hosted by the Engineer Advanced Leaders Course.
"All of the units here do community service projects," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Clinger, ALC instructor. "Students typically pick what they want to do, but this project was put in place before this class arrived."
Sgt. Lisa Knight, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, took the lead in organizing the event with help from the 12 NCOs in her class.
"I didn't know the terrain here, but people who did pointed me in the right direction," said Knight, who has been in the Army six years. "Each member of the class had a part."
"Our objectives were to teach team building and give these Scouts a good idea of what Army privates go through," Knight said.
Knight split the group of 11 Scouts, ranging from 5th- to 10th-grade, and their three chaperones, into two teams.
Before long, Scouts with team "Don't Look Down," led by Sgt. Michael Wiater, were practicing their warrior call and talking about motivation; while "Team Hawk," led by Sgt. Adrienne Mowan, warmed up in preparation for low-crawling through muddy terrain, hurdling walls, and reaching new heights on ropes.
The two teams observed as Mowan, a drill sergeant with Company B, 35th Engineer Battalion, led a demonstration of each of the 17 course objectives, with Sgt. Zachary Broz, 350th Civil Affairs Command.
After the demo, Scouts shouted their battle cries and took two turns running through the course; while NCOs offered support, lifted the Scouts up, dusted them off and encouraged them to keep moving.
"I thought it (TA 98) was fun," said Ben O'Donnell, a 10th-grader with Troop 854, who is one merit badge away from earning his Eagle Scout. "It was harder than I expected, but they taught us how to do the obstacles and motivated us to go through it."
O'Donnell's younger comrade, Benjamin Wiese, who is on his way to making the rank of Tenderfoot, said, "It is nice knowing you can do this and not get in trouble."
It was less about worry and all about building confidence, according to Wiater, who joins the ALC from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division.
"It was great showing them what we do in the Army," he said.
The NCO, known as the motivator among his classmates, added this type of activity prepares Scouts for what they will do in life and helps them to conquer their fears.
Wiater also led the Scouts through an after-action-review to get Scouts talking about things they would improve and things they liked.
Jackson "JJ" Gruettemeyer, a 6th-grader, said, "I liked how you helped us a lot," while, 5th-grader, Justin O'Donnell, added, "I was scared of some stuff, but not anymore."
The event concluded with Scouts getting to taste their first ready-to-eat meal, or MRE, where the cadre imparted their wisdom on MRE selections like beef taco, chicken noodle with vegetable sauce and chili with beans.
"Three years ago we came out to Fort Leonard Wood for the first time," said Rick Wiese, Troop 854 committee chair. "I wanted this group to come out and see that Soldiers are normal people like them and will support the Scouts to do their best."
"Everybody did a great job," said Wiese, who retired from the Army after 25 years of service. "We appreciate the opportunity to come out here."
As for the ALC students who volunteered their time to pass on some basic Soldier skills, they ended up inspired by seeing something money can't buy, which was pure determination.
"The Scouts did awesome. They were really motivating," Knight said, adding that a few of the participants looked just as good as the privates in the initial entry training phase. "These kids have a lot of heart."
"We all had a great day and it was fun," she commented.
Fort Leonard Wood hosts about 10 Scout visits annually, and visits are coordinated through the Public Affairs Office by calling 573.563.4145.