By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 26, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- More than 40 spouses earned their wings as they got a small taste of what their Soldiers endure while training on Fort Rucker.
Fort Rucker spouses stepped into the boots of their Soldiers as they took on Spouses Aviation Day April 19 and tackled four different events that ranged from flying high in simulators to getting down and dirty as they worked together through obstacle courses before having their wings pinned on during a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
"You get to do some things here that you probably wouldn't have done at any other unit," said Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, during the graduation ceremony. "I think it's cool that you get to see what your spouse does.
"What we don't often do is get to say, 'Thanks,' to you," he said. "What you mean to us and what you mean to our nation's security is really important. This is, hopefully, just a fun little way to say, 'Thank you,' for what you sacrifice from a nation that is going to ask a lot of you in the future -- but it's worth it."
Throughout the day-long event, spouses split up into four teams and had the chance to try their hand at flying various helicopter simulators at Warrior Hall, testing their shooting accuracy at the firing range simulators, testing their underwater survival skills with Helicopter Overwater Safety Training and gauging their team's ability to work together during the Leaders Reaction Course.
For Erin Allsop and Erin Bourgeois, military spouses, the day was an opportunity for them to better understand what their husbands go through while training here on the installation.
"As a new military spouse, this was a chance to see what my husband does as part of his Aviation training, get in the Army spirit and feel part of the greater Army family," said Allsop. "It was a chance to see things from (my husband's) perspective, which is always a way to be more supportive, and so it was a good chance to understand how grueling it is -- I'm exhausted."
"I've only been an Army spouse for six months, so it was a chance to see what (my spouse) does, support him and get involved in the Army life," added Bourgeois. "This was really great and I'm glad we got the chance to do it -- it was a lot of fun."
For many of the spouses, the event was a good chance to meet other spouses and appreciate everything the Army has to offer families on the installation, said Allsop.
"I think it should be noted the amount of effort that went into this," she said. "This was not an easy task and they pulled it off seamlessly and made it a really fun, positive day. It was challenging, but there was no point where we were left to feel unsupported, so all-in-all it was a great effort on the part of the cadre and support staff.
"It was an experience like no other that I've ever had," she continued. "It was out of my comfort zone, but in a good way. It was a great team-building experience and a good chance to meet others, and meet the commanding general. It was a challenging day, but a fun day.
"It really is overwhelming how much they support military spouses," added Bourgeois, "and really just hearing that it is us that helps them get through all of this is comforting."