By Ms Jennifer M Caprioli (IMCOM)June 16, 2011
After recently redeploying from a yearlong tour in Afghanistan, Soldiers of C Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion decided the unit's next challenge " designed to help build cohesion and strengthen teambuilding " would be a 14.5-mile hike up and down Mount Marcy, the highest point above sea level in New York state.
"We thought it would be a good challenge for a lot of our Soldiers," explained Capt. Rob Davis, company commander.
"With just coming back from Afghanistan, it is a good time to work on teambuilding, bring in the new Soldiers (and say) farewell (to) some of our Soldiers (who) are leaving in the following month."
On Thursday, when the Soldiers reached the top of the mountain, more than 5,300 feet above sea level, in about four hours, they took a break, did an about-face and headed down the mountain.
Davis noted that although the unit wanted to focus on teambuilding, planning also was a big aspect of the trip.
"Planning is important for a lot of my junior leaders to see how much it takes to plan a quality event," Davis explained, noting the trip took about two months to plan.
"Last weekend, I had to come out and do a (reconnaissance mission). That's when, in my mind, I finally set on rain or shine (that) we were going to do this," he said.
"(Planning) this trip and (bringing) everyone together allows our junior leaders a chance to have that experience supervising their Soldiers and making sure they're ready for the mission and making sure they're physically fit to actually do the hike," noted Capt. Bennett Baldwin, medical service corps officer.
Before heading up the mountain, Davis said he expected teambuilding to play a large part in the hike.
"We're going to have parts where we're going to have Soldiers who aren't going to be able to do it by themselves. They're going to need assistance from their buddies, not only on the ascent, but also on the descent. I think it's going to help a lot of the new Soldiers to trust their leaders and also their fellow Soldiers," he said.
The majority of the company is composed of combat medics, but also included are military occupational specialties such as laboratory technicians, patient administrators, X-ray technicians and behavioral health specialists. The brigade's physical therapist and doctor also accompanied the unit on the trek.
Davis noted the hike was important because it would be an opportunity to test the Soldiers' medical skills.
"One thing we've also stressed in this company is the importance of physical fitness. If you can't take your buddy off the battlefield, then you're not an effective medic," he explained, adding that some of the medics are training for the Expert Field Medical Badge course, which they will attend in fall 2012. The EFMB is one of the most difficult and prestigious Army skill badges a Soldier can earn.
After stepping off the trail, most of the Soldiers agreed the hike was difficult, but it was also worth being able to see the view from the summit.
"There was one point where I wish they would have sent a helicopter to come get me, but I wasn't going to quit," said Spc. John Wesberry, radiology specialist. He added that having his fellow Soldiers around helped pushed him to the top.
"I was kind of overwhelmed; I can't believe I made it to the top," noted Spc. Janeka Moody, a medic, who said this was the first time she hiked a mountain like Mount Marcy.
"I will take away from this that I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was. Any other day I would have (said) I never would be able to climb a mountain, but I did. I didn't give up."
After the hike, Soldiers rested and enjoyed a cookout dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, s'mores and other goodies.