By Spc. Terence Ewings, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAONovember 9, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Redeployed 1st Cavalry Division troopers leaped, climbed and free fell during controlled activities as part of the morale, welfare and recreation sponsored reintegration training, Warrior Adventure Quest, Oct. 31-Nov. 4.
Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, participated in the event to assist in Soldier re-integration, empower small-unit leaders and maintain combat readiness.
"The WAQ event helps strengthen unit morale and cohesion, and it also allows the Soldiers to relax with one another after returning from a long deployment," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Cameron Hines, the command and control systems integrator for 4th BCT.
Hines is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the WAQ program for the cavalry troopers, who redeployed from a year-long mission in northern Iraq in August, supporting Operation New Dawn.
Throughout the eight-day event, troopers had the opportunity to rock climb, bungee jump and mountain bike through training obstacles while learning about constructive stress outlets and coping skills for managing past combat experiences.
"All through the month of November, the 4th Brigade Soldiers will have the opportunity to participate in the event," said Hines, a native of Carbon Hill, Ala. "This event will allow the Soldiers to work and relate with one another outside the combat environment they just returned from."
Each of the planned activities in the WAQ program are designed to challenge the Soldiers physically and mentally while aiding in the transition from combat operations to a garrison environment, decreasing the likelihood of a non-battle injury or death.
The paint ball and mountain biking exercises where held at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area (BLORA) near Fort Hood, Texas, while the bungee jumping and rock climbing activities where located at Boulder's Climbing Center in Harker Heights, Texas, and the Zero Gravity Thrill Park in Dallas, Texas.
"The best part of this whole experience is being able to spend time with the guys I deployed with in a different atmosphere," said Spc. Nicholas Koumarianos, an armor crewman assigned to Company D, 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt.
Koumarianos also enjoyed the fact that he had the opportunity to overcome his fear of heights with his "battle buddies" by his side.
"I would have never done anything like this on my own," said Koumarianos, a native of Hudson, N.H. "At the end of the day, I can say 'I did this with them,' and that means a lot to me."
After spending the past year on mounted patrols as part of a mine resistant ambush protected crew in Kirkuk, Iraq, Pfc. Ryan Arndt feels this event was a well-deserved break.
"I have never had the opportunity to experience anything like this before," said Arndt, a Bradley fighting vehicle system maintainer assigned to Company A, 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt. "It's fun to be able to participate in something like this and be able to share it with my battle buddies."
"It feels good, and I'm happy our unit had the chance to do this," said Arndt, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. "I look forward to future events like this where we can all get together again like family."