July 27, 2003, 15:37 EST

Leesburg unit welcomes families

A rare site was witnessed at an Army National Guard armory recently, soldiers relaxing and enjoying a picnic with their families. On Sunday, July 14th, Charlie Company out of Leesburg, Virginia held their annual Family Day. They could not have picked a more gorgeous day for the occasion. The sun was out and so were the smiles!

Soldiers and families from C Company enjoy the food at Family Day.

The soldiers from Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry attended their two weeks of annual training in June at Fort AP Hill. The unit trained hard for two weeks on a variety of infantry tasks that included night attacks with their night vision devices, security patrols through the hilly and thickly vegetated terrain, and live fire exercises shooting anti-tank missiles and other “high speed” weapon systems. The unit even endured what 1st Lt. Lawrence Yacubian, a platoon leader with the unit, described as “two weeks of rain that came regularly and nearly every day.”

The unit spent the Saturday before the unit Family Day conducting recovery operations from the two weeks of training. As 1st Sgt. Kevin Bleckley, the highest ranking enlisted soldier in the unit, explains, “Due to the inclement weather and rough training we endured in June, we needed to take a day to conduct maintenance on our equipment and weapons. This will ensure we’re ready to serve the state or our country should our services be needed.”

After a day of conducting maintenance that included a thorough cleaning and inventory of all their equipment, the soldiers were able to invite their families out for a day with the unit. As soldiers bonded by recalling moments from their two weeks of training, family members were able to enjoy an assortment of activities. Families were able to enjoy a picnic, simulate shooting an anti-tank missile system called the Dragon on a training simulator, and shooting M16 rifles and machine guns on a training system that can simulate a variety of combat scenarios and environments. The kids even got to run through a water sprinkler.

The unit’s commander Captain Paul Schreifels said “We have some of the finest officers, NCOs, and enlisted soldiers in the National Guard! They give unselfishly throughout the year and are rewarded with the family day. Events such as these are an opportunity for us to recognize the families and let them know how much they mean to us. They’re an integral part of our team.”

Schreifels made sure to thank the families for coming to the picnic. Before they left, he also made sure to recognize the soldiers themselves. Each soldier from a squad that performed exceptionally well at annual training was presented with framed certificates and three other soldiers were awarded the Army Achievement Medal.

As one soldier noted, “My wife had an awesome time! It’s great for her to meet the soldiers I serve with and to see how great Charlie Company is. She’s very proud of me and the rest of the guys.” So is the rest of Virginia.

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