By Fort Sill Tribune staffJuly 5, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla. (July 5, 2019) -- Air Force 2nd Lt. Abigail Pongracz of Altus (Okla.) Air Force Base had been to Fort Sill before, but it was only to go shopping at the commissary and Main Post Exchange.
She was here again June 25, with a group of officers from the 97th Air Mobility Wing to participate in a joint exercise of sorts -- a relaxing day for Airmen to meet their Soldier counterparts.
About 19 company grade officers (CGO) in ranks O-1 through O-3 spent the day competing at the Combat Conditioning Course, visiting the Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery museums, and learning professional development at a mentoring luncheon at the Patriot Club.
"This was a really good opportunity to meet people on Fort Sill, and to start networking with other young officers and building relationships," said Pongracz, public affairs officer. "I'm also excited to see the museums and the sights."
The activity was coordinated by Air Force 2nd Lt. Josiah Johnson, Base Communications Mission Defense Team officer in charge. He said the whole point of the day was to establish camaraderie between the services in a fun environment. CGOs from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City were invited, too, but none could make it because of recent deployments.
"Our leaders are always saying to branch out to other people, make connections, especially in the joint environments," he said. To make those connections at home installations will make service members betters fighters together when they again meet on deployments.
Many of the Soldiers were students in the Air Defense Artillery Captains Career Course Class No. 03-19, and were encouraged by their leaders to participate, said student Capt. Michael Sanchez.
"Being air defense we work really close with the Air Force," Sanchez said. "This was a really good opportunity to expand on those relationships because you never know who you're going to meet down the road, or where you'll be stationed."
After a safety briefing by Johnson, the Soldiers and Airmen were mixed into teams of four to go through the obstacle course in a friendly competition. Peers, including Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and international students, cheered on the competitors.
Virtually all the Airmen were members of the Altus Air Force Base Company Grade Officer Council. Air Force Capt. Ro'Maine Pryor, Logistics Readiness Squadron Logistics Operations and Compliance flight commander, is the Altus CGO Council president. He said Altus and Fort Sill CGOs historically have not had much interaction unless there was an exercise.
"I want people to intermingle, to sit next to somebody they haven't spoken to or ever seen, to ask questions about each others' careers to really build those contacts that will allow us to build our network of CGOs across the sister services," he said.
After the obstacle course, the Airmen and Soldiers hit the showers. Later that morning they met up at the Field Artillery Museum.
For the mentoring luncheon, an Army major spoke about leadership, furthering one's military career, and offer a professional reading list, Johnson said. After lunch a visit to the Air Defense Artillery Museum was scheduled.
Army Capt. Christopher Neff, an ADA CCC student, said he jumped on the opportunity to meet the Air Force because it was a unique experience offered as part of his training.
"We'll be working with the Air Force a lot in the future," Neff said.
Air Force 1st Lt. Scott Weiss, Civil Engineer Squadron project programmer and manager, said he was gaining much from the activities.
"We're going to the artillery museums to learn more about history and professional development, " he said. "As young officers that's what we need so we can progress through our careers."