By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Military spouses learn a little about soldiers' jobs
Litter Carry
Kelly Baptist (right) Talesh Nelson (left) and Ashley Jones (rear right) and Bailey Lewis participate in the litter carry. - photo by Lewis Levine / Coastal Courier
Dressed in camouflage pants and T-shirts proudly displaying their husbands' units, 150 Fort Stewart spouses came out Saturday morning to earn a Combat Action Spouses Badge, and even learn what their military spouses do when they're off training of fighting the war on terrorism.
Connie Earls is a runner, but when it comes to trying her hand at other physical events she can take it or leave it. Standing in line waiting for her turn to participate in the physical fitness test set up as the first event in the competition, Earls clapped and cheered those wives who took a crack at the push up phase.
When it was her turn to give it a try, the 27-year-old spouse of Staff Sgt. Eric Earls surprised herself by pumping out 52 push-ups. With sweat glistening on her face, Earls said she was pleased to be part of the event.
"This is awesome. It's great to be out here to learn what my husband does on a daily basis."
Earls said she met many other spouses during the daylong event and found comfort in the fact many other spouses share in the hardship deployments cause.
"We share this deployment together and it's great to know were all in this together."
Earls believes the combat training for spouses should be an annual event, not just during deployments.
"This is the first time I have participated in something like this and I am really enjoying myself, I think this should be held annually."
Throughout the course of the morning the spouses, including one man, participated in events such as carrying a patient in a litter while crawling, simulating a combat rescue. Spouses took their turn crawling on the grass using their elbows and knees, pulling a litter to one end of the field to pick up a male mannequin, load it on the stretcher, and crawl back under white rope, and not drop him. One spouse, wearing short sleeves, held her elbows up and asked for bandages as blood flowed from small cuts.
Teams took turns learning how marching maneuvers under the watchful eye of former drill instructor Steve Sheapard, who cut the women no slack as he barked orders.
"You think it's funny, he told one woman who made the mistake of laughing in his formation. "Give me 20 push-ups."
The smile quickly disappeared from the woman's face as she hit the ground.
By the end of the drill session and the customary yelling attributed to drill instructors, the ladies were marching and drilling in unison.
Christy McKnight, whose husband is Col. Mark McKnight, division chief of staff at times bared Shepard's ire said all she could think about were her two sons who want to follow in her husband's footsteps.
"I kept thinking, 'my God, they're going to be screaming at my babies when they go to basic."
Spouses also got to take part in a Military Operations on Urban Terrain training exercise. With their faces in camouflage paint and a training M-16 in hand, the women cleared a room in the 4th brigade headquarters building where a masked terrorist waited for them with an AK-47 assault rifle. Opening the door quickly the women simulating gunfire, shot and killed the terrorist, rifled through his pockets for documents, executing the mission with an excellent rating.
Other events included common task testing, where the spouses took a written test on basic knowledge items each soldier has to master. They also took part in firing the M-16 rifle in a simulation center that uses lasers to hit the targets. The teams also competed against each other in a tug of war.
They also got to eat meals ready to eat, which were not to Phenicia Marquardt's liking.
Sniffing the beef Enchilada, she said, "I'm not eating this, this is nasty." Marquardt's husband, Pfc Briyan Marquardt, is deployed to Iraq. She said she enjoyed herself.
"This was really cool. I thought it was going to be lame at first, now at least I'll know what my husband is talking about when he talks about his job."
The idea was brought to Fort Stewart by Christie Kisko, who was stationed in Friedburg Germany with her husband Staff sgt Garry Kisko and it was held there. "I brought it up to the chain of command and they liked the idea. I feel it's a great way to help the spouses understand what their husbands go through and also help them keep in shape."
Sign up for our e-newsletters