By Sgt. James Griffin, 101st Airborne DivisionJune 7, 2019
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky - Nine leaders, including Dr. Ken Moore, mayor of Franklin, Tennessee, visited Fort Campbell May 29, 2019 as part of the annual "Franklin Rendezvous" hosted by 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
This is the second year the unit has conducted Franklin Rendezvous, said Lt. Col. Tim Sulzner, rear detachment commander, 1st BCT. The event is designed to provide the citizens of Franklin the opportunity to visit the post and interact with Soldiers, and build a better understanding of what a Soldier's daily life looks like.
"The intent is to get different community members and different business leaders every year, to expand their situational awareness of what Fort Campbell offers Soldiers," said Sulzner. "We highlight some of what our Soldiers do on a daily basis."
The event began with a stop at McAuliffe Hall, the 101st Abn. Div. headquarters, where Col. Derek Thomson, commander, 1st BCT welcomed the group by video call from Iraq.
Next, guests moved to 1st BCT's Johnson Field where Soldiers set up a variety of static displays, provided demonstrations and offered some Army equipment for the mayor and the group to get some hands-on experience. Among the guests was Lynne McAlister, a very active volunteer in the Franklin area.
"First, I was very honored to be invited out," said McAlister. "I really don't know very much about the armed services or any individuals that serve. So I think it means so much when you get to meet people one on one."
The static displays showcased common Soldier tasks ranging from the infantry Soldier to combat engineers, combat medics and artillerymen.
"The first thing I was struck by is how many people it takes to make one thing happen. Just to fire the howitzer, you had the first team of three people calling up the target, then the next team to check the sighting and then the guys that actually make it fire. That's a dozen or more people to do just one thing," said McAlister. "It's no wonder that the service needs to be so big. Even with all of the high powered equipment we have, it still takes a lot of people to make it work and to make it work right."
Following the static displays, the guest took a break a Fort Campbell dining facility, getting to know more 1st BCT "Bastogne" Soldiers over lunch. Next was a small arms weapons range, where Bastogne Soldiers coached the group members on use and fire of the M4 Carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. McAlister remarked on the high skill level of the Fort Campbell Soldiers.
"The medics seemed to be so knowledgeable and you start to think 'but did you study to be a paramedic or a doctor or a nurse or something before you joined?' And no, all of those skills were trained here," said McAlister. "I think that is pretty amazing too because you have a great education system that is preparing people for a Soldier's life and beyond."
The final stop of the day was the Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum where the guest received a short brief on the kinds of programs that Fort Campbell offers its Soldiers. After the presentation, the floor was opened for discussion.
McAlister expressed a keen interest in becoming more involved with the Fort Campbell community.
"I had no idea what to expect," said McAlister. "Now I want to learn more and get more involved and see how we as a community can become more supportive."