By Gary SkidmoreMay 11, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Sgts. Jonathan Reinegger, James Kinney and Jeffrey Walters, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment received enough physical training April 29, to last them a week after playing with students from Westwood Elementary School in Junction City.
They ran, jumped, were crawled on, carried kids, and were the subject of dog piles for several hours during the afternoon. Supporting the school's "Schools in Review" program, several members of the battalion visited the classrooms, ate lunch and went to the playground with the students.
Kinney has been married for three years but doesn't have children and said he loved his day with the kids.
"My wife is a student teacher on Fort Riley so I thought it'd be a good opportunity for me to experience what she deals with everyday," said Kinney. "I don't think she goes through a lot of dog piles like I just did, but she enjoys the job. I'm still out of breath from the dog pile."
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Dukes said he thought the partnership they have with the school, a part of the recent Army Community Covenant program, was great.
"One of the good things about this particular program is there's a lot of children with parents in the military and with deployments being what they are, it gives kids a connection while their military parents are deployed. It's also great for our involvement in the community. We do a lot with Junction City and Grandview Plaza and it helps strengthen our bonds," he said.
Student Support Monitor Jerry Williams, a retired Soldier from Fort Riley, knows the importance of having Soldiers interact with students.
"It's terribly important for the kids to see uniforms here," Williams said. "Most are comfortable with Soldiers and since so many parents are deployed, it gives our students a reassurance and a connection when the battalion comes."
Still breathing heavily 10 minutes after their run and dog piles, Reinegger, Kinney, Walters and Dukes said there was no doubt they'd be back if asked.
"I'm not too sure about carrying so many kids the next time we race," Reinnegger said, "And I probably won't have that many kids dog pile me next time," Kinney said, "And I know I won't try to run as fast as I did with all those kids hanging on me," Walters said, "but we'll be back," Dukes said.