By Spc. Angel Turner, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAOSeptember 13, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas--Families of Soldiers assigned to 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, navigated through an array of tasks during a spouse spur ride here Sept. 7.
Motivating each other with war cries, the group of spur candidates set out to have fun, accomplish some Army tasks and prove to their spouses that they had what it took to complete the day's mission.
"This is going to bring the Families closer together so there is a shared, common experience," said 2nd Lt. Adam Gittleman, a platoon leader with C Troop, 1-9 Cav.
Twenty-four spouses gathered at the Training Support Center where they began the spur ride at the Engagement Skills Trainer.
Soldiers demonstrated the basic fundamentals of marksmanship on mock M-4 and M-16 assault rifle systems: steady breathing, correct site picture, trigger squeeze and body position. The group of spouses proceeded to zero their weapon systems while getting accustomed to the feel of shooting the rifles.
"The squadron has always been big on family," said Gittleman, a native of Seabrook, Tx., and coordinator of the spouse spur ride.
"We wanted to get as many Families as we could together out here on Fort Hood so we could showcase all the great things our troopers do in training and give the spouses a chance to experience a little bit of that."
Once everyone completed the EST, Soldiers and their families marched to a nearby range to engage targets using live ammunition. Upon command the sound of rounds cracked the silent air.
Remembering the fundamentals learned previously in the day, spouses fired 15 rounds at a target 25 meters away. Proud faces of both Soldiers and their loved ones filled the range once everyone saw just how well the novice shooters did.
"I decided to do the spur ride because I thought this would be an awesome opportunity to have some family time and also gain some knowledge on what Soldiers do every single day," said Ramona Walsh, who has been married roughly 15 years to Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Walsh, the squadron's motor control sergeant assigned to D Troop, 1st Sqdn., 9th Cav. Reg.
The next objective for the day included high crawling, carrying weighted ammunition cans on a balancing beam, and throwing simulated grenades as part of timed obstacle course. In teams of two, the spur candidates maneuvered through the course, encouraging each other as the physical strain begin to become evident as the sun blazed overhead.
"Cover me while I move," and "I got you covered" quickly echoed from obstacle to obstacle. Soldiers continuously encouraged their guests, telling them they could make it even when the ones taking part in the spur ride said otherwise.
"This shows Families that the unit cares about family time. It also gives families more appreciation for the unit in a sense that we understand what Soldiers go through," stated Walsh.
The final tasks of the day included assaulting enemy forces in a simulated High Mobility Multipurpose Vehicle at the Warrior Skills Trainer.
Spouses took turns driving the vehicle and firing at opposing forces displayed on multiple screens around the HMMVW. The wives continuously scanned the screens and waited to fire from their turrets.
"This helps build a relationship because we understand what our spouses do and how hard they work," added Walsh.
After completing a day of strenuous tasks that many were not accustomed to, the spouses proudly received their silver spurs and their certificates.
"Job well done," said Lt. Col. Jose Polanco, commander of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment.
"You guys really accomplished a lot today. You giving up your time and wanting to be part of the Army Family, the 'Head Hunters' Family, really means a lot to all of us. Thank you again for giving up your time today to see what we are all about," added Polanco, a native of New York.