By Spc. Candace S. FosterMay 19, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- For many spouses of Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (LI), May 10 began like it does for all Polar Bears, with PT. Forty-six wives came together for the first 4-31 Infantry G.I. Jane Day, an event designed to bring spouses together for a fun-filled and challenging day of military activities.
The day began with a 7 a.m. physical training formation. After a two-mile run and numerous push-ups and sit-ups, the spouses, or Lady Polar Bears as they are called, ate breakfast at the battalion and prepared for the rest of the day's activities. After moving out to the post obstacle course, the Lady Polar Bears energetically maneuvered through the weaver, inverted ladder, inclined wall and other obstacles.
"Some of it was a lot of fun and challenging but really hard," said Stephanie Maerker, spouse of Cpl. Kyle Maerker.
On a scale of one to 10, Maerker gave the obstacle course a rating of nine for its level of difficulty.
Following a lunch of Meals-Ready-to-Eat, wives moved to their next event in true Polar Bear fashion, on foot. At the completion of their foot march, spouses moved on to a 25-meter rifle range for several hours of marksmanship training.
Laura Cowell, spouse of Pvt. Julian Cowell, did not participate in the morning's PT session, but she enjoyed herself at the other activities.
"It was a lot of fun, and it was nice and dirty. That's how it should be," Cowell said at the end of the day.
Cowell said her favorite exercise was the low crawl through the mud. That exercise and the rest of the day's activities gave her a better understanding of the training her husband goes through.
"I actually do have a better understanding for combat training. I understand that it's a lot of mental work and physical stuff," Cowell said. "I actually thought it was more physical, but it's mental, too."
The day ended with a rock wall climb, individual movement techniques and M-249 assault course, and an after-action review session / awards ceremony for the wives.
"I thought it was a great event from start to finish," said Staff Sgt. Paul Fisk, one of the event coordinators.
"The wives got to begin their day with PT first thing in the morning like their husbands do. They stayed strong and went all the way," Fisk said. "The confidence course, road march and range time really gave them a taste of what a day is like for a Soldier."
Lt. Col. Robert Ryan, battalion commander, said the event was put together to display what the Soldiers do day to day.
"The event was focused on team building for family readiness groups and for our wives to learn one another in a different kind of light - in a Soldier light, if you will," Ryan said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Benny Dobbs said the Lady Polar Bears were absolutely awesome.
"They gave 110 percent to everything they did, and I think they genuinely had a great time today," he said.
This fall, the Polar Bears plan to host another family-oriented team building event much like this one.