By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 14, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- It's said you can never truly understand what someone goes through unless you walk a mile in their shoes, and some Fort Rucker spouses got the chance to try on Aviation training boots Oct. 6.
Thirty-five Fort Rucker spouses got the chance to literally get their feet wet during Spouses Aviation Day when they got a taste of some of the training their loved ones go through on the installation.
Split into four different groups taking on four different types of training, the spouses had the opportunity to take part in a bit of friendly competition as they took turns in flight simulators at Warrior Hall, took aim with firing range simulation at the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, tried their hand at team building with group exercises at the Leaders Reaction Course and took a dive with Helicopter Overwater Survival Training.
For many of the spouses, they jumped at the chance to see what their Soldiers are put through in training and some even made new friends along the way.
"I wanted to see what my husband went through and this was a great chance to meet the other spouses, as well," said Janna Dawinan, military spouse and participant.
"I wanted to get the experience of what my husband did and get the chance to interact with the other spouses," added Alison Lawhead, fellow participant. "It was an honor to put on the uniform during HOST and it was just all really good -- it was a great experience."
Throughout the day, the spouses had to take part in different exercises at each event, and although with most events it was an individual effort, some called for teamwork.
During the LRC, each of the spouses had to overcome a problem with their team by working together to try to get each team member and their equipment across different obstacles. During that process, the team had to strategize different ways to make it across the obstacles without losing team members or equipment, which can be a difficult task, said Dawinan.
"During the LRC, the leadership part wasn't hard, but it was tough to work together," she said. "We really had to put our minds together and work as a team."
During other events, such as the EST 2000 simulation, the spouses got the chance to get their hands on M-4 and M-16 rifles, as well as a Mark-19, a 50-caliber machine gun, and even a rocket launcher. Throughout the training, they had a set amount of ammunition that they were allowed to expend to hit their targets.
After getting their hands on some weapons, they got the chance to test out their survival skills at the HOST training facility, where they swam a set distance underwater to open a hatch to swim through.
Finally, the spouses got the chance to fly high as they tackled the flight simulators at Warrior Hall, where they were able to get behind the stick and try out different airframes, such as the UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook and OH-58 Kiowa.
For Lawhead, she said the entire experience gave her a new sense of respect for what her husband and other Soldiers go through in training.
"This experience gave us insight into what it is our husbands do and it makes me even more proud of him," she said. "We're just grateful for this experience and we're thankful for everyone that put it together."
After all was said and done, each spouse earned their wings during a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum where friends and family members came to congratulate them.