By Patrick BuffettJune 30, 2011
FORT LEE, Va. (June 30, 2011) --Twenty-one cub scouts experienced the adventure and honor of Army life during a special Fort Lee visit Friday that included participation in the installation's evening "Retreat" ceremony.
Sgt. 1st Class Randall Reed from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CASCOM, greeted the parents and boys from Colonial Heights Pack 160 as they assembled in a parking lot near building 6235 along Front Access Road. Moments before the arrival, he made note of his past accomplishments as an Eagle Scout and said he was proud to "give something back."
"Patriotism and positive values are a big part of scouting, and that's what today is all about," said the 33-year-old from Azle, Texas. "You can serve your country in many different ways - they do it as scouts and we do it as Soldiers - it's a simple matter of knowing what's right and following that path regardless of the challenges or the hard work involved. Hopefully, they will remember this experience and keep doing the right things. Maybe some of them will even join the Army in the future."
In true military fashion, the visiting scouts were divided into manageable squads - led by Staff Sgt. Jose Flores and Sgt. 1st Class James Mills - before they began their tour. During their first stop, they rotated through two demonstrations. Sgt. 1st Class Colin Dayton provided instruction on the HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer, or HEAT for short, which is used to teach troops how to survive and escape from vehicle roll-overs in a tactical environment. Sgt. 1st Class James Laborde welcomed the scouts to the Engagement Skills Trainer (a computerized marksmanship range) where the lesson of the day was to "listen to your battle buddy and avoid actions that are unsafe."
The next stop of the tour was the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer, a new simulation system that places participants in a 360-degree virtual world where they can experience a highly realistic vehicle reconnaissance mission. Mark Menzies, the senior RVTT system instructor at Lee, was among the experts on hand who patiently explained vehicle systems and read-outs to the excited scouts. After that, the youngsters were taken to another room where they "toed the mat" in the combatives pit. Staff Sgt. Kirk Hoxie described the various fighting styles that Soldiers learn while Sgt. Scott Colley demonstrated some of the moves.
"I think that was one of the highlights of the tour," said Teresa Moore, Pack 160 cub master. "You could tell that the boys enjoyed the close interaction with the Soldiers, and they were very impressed by the demonstrations. Overall, I'm just amazed by the time and access Fort Lee gave us during this visit. It means a lot."
Moore also discussed the purpose of the tour, noting that respect for the military and those who serve is goal No. 1. "Hopefully, they will see some of the similarities like wearing a uniform and being a member of a brotherhood that's respectful and honorable. That's what scouting is all about. On top of that, I wanted them to have fun. They work very hard on community projects all year and this visit is a great reward."
The final stop of the tour was the flag pole in front of the Sustainment Center of Excellence where the scouts teamed up with CASCOM Soldiers for the evening "Retreat" ceremony. Despite their young age and experience level, the scouts clearly demonstrated their reverence for the occasion, and they didn't miss a step as they helped the troops fold and retire the national colors.
"It was emotional and moving for all of us," said 1st Sgt. Laderek Green, the lead NCO for HHC, CASCOM. "It showed them a small part of military tradition, and you could see in their eyes that they took it very seriously. They were proud, and it's something they will probably remember it for a long time to come."
Command Sgt. Maj. C.C. Jenkins, CASCOM and Fort Lee CSM, was impressed by the ceremony as well.
"One of the boys was celebrating his sixth birthday, and we selected him to lead the procession and carry the flag back into the building," he said. "The pride in that young man's face was unmistakable and affected all of us. These types of positive experiences and exposure could very well benefit our future leaders."