COSCOM Welcomes Belton Chamber of Commerce to Fort Hood
Story by Pvt. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office
"Tony has a man purse!" The female laughed and pointed across the aisle of the bus.
"Don't laugh at my purse!" Tony protested defensively, yet unable to hide the chuckle in his voice.
Such was the conversation on the bus as Maj. Willie Rios III, 13th Corps Support Command SGS, gave Tony Jeter and members of the Belton Chamber of Commerce a tour of Fort Hood August 24.
Greeted by the COSCOM commanding general, Brig. Gen. Michael Terry, over refreshments that included bagels, croissants, muffins, fruit spreads, strawberries and grapes, the chamber began their tour in the COSCOM conference room.
After hearing an overview of COSCOM organization and operations, the members were ushered behind COSCOM headquarters where Soldiers of the 44th Chemical Company, with M93A1 Fox Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance System and M31E1 Biological Integrated Detection System vehicles on hand, were waiting.
"God protect us!" shouted one chamber member as Jeter climbed into the driver's seat of an M93A1 Fox NBCRS. Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Carter, platoon sergeant with the 44th, was there, however, to make sure Jeter caused no harm.
With adrenaline flowing after their close contact with military vehicles, the members climbed onto a bus to go see real live military training.
Arriving at the Leadership Reaction Course, the members were ordered to gather around for the course safety briefing.
"Everybody drinking water?!" barked Capt. Burr Miller, commander of the 565th Quartermaster Company.
"Yes!" the civilians shouted, obviously eager to begin.
Non-commissioned officers escorted the members to an observation deck above the course as Soldiers of the 44th navigated the various obstacles.
"That'd be fun!" one member claimed.
"Didn't look fun to [the Soldiers]!" another responded, citing the fact that one Soldier was soaking wet after falling from one of the water obstacles.
"Glad you didn't make any of us do it!" another agreed.
Another member added mischievously she would only be willing to try her hand at the course if she could choose her own team members.
As the Soldiers of the 44th completed the course, the chamber members returned to the bus.
"Pretty impressive thing, that course," commented one member to no one in particular. The buzz of conversation that followed implied the others agreed.
The air conditioned bus moved along toward the 1st Cavalry Museum where the museum's assistant non-commissioned officer in charge, Sgt. 1st Class Abel Hernandez, stood ready to lead the chamber on a detailed tour.
Chamber member Robert Jones stood staring at a vintage military motorcycle, a longing grin on his face. Behind him, Hernandez was "herding cats," as the many different displays pulled the members in different directions. Hernandez painstakingly made his way through the Cavalry's history, pausing often to gather his audience and refocus their attention as they studied the 1st Cavalry history.
At one point, Hernandez asked, "Are you learning anything yet?!" to which the members replied, "Yes!"
"I'm ready for my pop quiz!" one of the businessmen added excitedly.
When all the members finally made their way through the museum and exited the building, they were escorted to the Freeman Dining Facility where they were met by Terry and the COSCOM's command sergeant major Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Fountain.
While the group ate, they discussed highlights of the tour so far.
"That training looked difficult!" one member exclaimed, referring to the leadership course.
Chamber member Jay Taggart said he was impressed with the fact that the Soldiers had no set of plans to work with yet they still navigated the obstacles as a team.
"I loved the communication!" another member agreed.
As the meal progressed, Terry shared some of his experiences in Iraq, highlighting the courage and commitment of the Soldiers under his command.
"Think about it," Terry urged the chamber members. "[Soldiers] don't have to be here. Their courage is phenomenal!"
Terry then went on to describe ways the command is trying to support the Soldiers who, as one member noticed, are so young.
"Anything we can give those kids, they deserve," Terry assured the group. "You don't see the good stuff these kids are doing. You see protestors."
Terry and the members then discussed the Adopt-A-School and Adopt-A-Unit programs designed to benefit Soldiers and local communities.
With serious discussions and ice cream under their belts, the members loaded themselves back onto the bus - this time to try out Fort Hood's combat simulation modules.
The site manager, a retired military scout, explained how battle simulation training complemented field training how it was a cost effective way to train units. Following the briefing, members were allowed to climb into the simulators to experience military training for themselves.
Chamber member Carol Rowald climbed into the driver's seat of an M2 Bradley battle simulator while Taggart directed fire in an adjoining unit. The simulators had very limited space for observers, but that did not stop members from crawling in as tight as sardines as they watched each other maneuver along the simulated battlefield.
After battle simulations were completed, the group traveled out to Hood Army Airfield where they gathered around an AH-64D Apache Longbow.
"This is where your tax dollars are going," explained Chief Warrant Officer (4) Paul Eishen, Jr.
Eishen went on to describe the efficiency of the aircraft as well as the commitment and excellence of the men and women he serves with.
"These kids work really hard," Eishen said of the Soldiers who fly and maintain the Army's Apaches. "These kids are phenomenal!"
He then urged the group not to listen to everything they hear in the media concerning the nation's troops.
"The insurgents are great at making us look bad," Eishen demanded. "Only believe about half of what you see."
Eishen then described how destructive the weapons on the Apache can be and that many times he and his squad chose not to use them because they did not want to take the lives of innocent civilians.
Instead, he said, "There were 19 and 20 year olds going door to door, doing the right thing, [targeting insurgents]. That's an extremely emotional thing. There's no one I'm more proud of."
As the group left the airfield following Eishen's tour, one member commented: "It's nice to know we have people like that in the Army."
The members were slightly more subdued as they headed for their final stop on their tour of Fort Hood. At this last stop, they saw for themselves the great improvements in housing their taxes provide for enlisted personnel in the Army.
At the end of the day, they gathered at Terry's home for an informal reception. The events of the day seemed successful. Taggart for one was impressed and obviously convinced Fort Hood and its Soldiers are worth supporting.
"Let's work together," Taggart said to Terry and his staff. "Let's make sure we're hooking up and doing something good [for the Soldiers and the community]."
Belton Chamber of Commerce Visit 8-24-05
Belton Chamber of Commerce Visit 8-24-05