April 23, 2005
By Capt. Timothy R. Brooke
FORT PICKETT, Va. -- Employers of Soldiers from C Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment from Harrisonburg, Va. were recently recognized by 2nd Battalion for their important contributions to the readiness of the unit. They were invited on Apr. 2, 2005 to observe the unit’s Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training at Fort Pickett, Va.
In order to prepare soldiers for this type of warfare, Fort Pickett has built a mock town complete with buildings and roads. Employers were given a chance to observe first hand the rigors of training endured by the Soldiers on a typical drill weekend before retuning to work for them the following Monday.
Seven employers were present for the day’s events. Their first stop in the MOUT village was the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) where Maj. Walter Mercer, the battalion’s executive officer and second in command, welcomed them. Mercer explained the concept of the training that was taking place in the village and how the TOC controlled and monitored all the action.
Maj. Timothy Crider from the Virginia Army National Guard Headquarters and Mr. Thomas M. Stephen, a retired Army Reserve colonel, from the Central Virginia Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) also met the employers to thank them for their continuing support of the Soldiers they employ. Stephen briefed the employers about the numerous programs that ESGR is conducting to recognize deserving employers. For more information about ESGR please go to www.esgr.org.
During their stay at the MOUT village, the employers were treated to infantry weather of cold temperatures and rain showers. However, the weather did not cool their enthusiasm for the realistic training they were witnessing. Soldiers from the battalion proudly displayed their knowledge of tactics used in urban terrain such as conducting a traffic control point, vehicle search, and reaction to sniper fire.
After the employers enjoyed a meal ready to eat (MRE) in the rubbuled remains of a building, the weather broke into what turned out to be an ideal day. The afternoon brought the beating of a Blackhawk helicopter’s rotors, and employers were treated to an orientation flight around Fort Pickett’s training area by a crew from 224th Aviation Battalion from Sandston, Va.
The employers were flown to Observation Point 6 where they were introduced to the 81 MM mortar weapons system. An expert crew lead by Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Stewart from Headquarters Company in Lynchburg, Va., demonstrated the mortar’s lethal ability to provide close and immediate indirect fire support to the light infantry. Mr. Shawn McQuaid, from Shenandoah Supply, said “You guys put on a great show; you should be able to get anyone to join.”
After, returning to the MOUT site, employers were recognized by Maj. John Epperly, commander of the battalion. Epperly gave the employers a brief unit history and again thanked them for their critical role making the battalion ready to answer any call to duty. “I have a new respect for what Terry (SGT Souers) goes through,” said Terye Williams, CEO of Red Range Inc.