If the lengthy title of this post doesn’t give it away, the past few months have been packed with activities related to my job. I’ll try and give a brief summary of each and then let the pictures (and video) do the talking.
In August-September, my brigade deployed to JRTC for 30 days. We spent about 20 of those 30 days in the field engaged in a Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) rotation. Essentially, everything my Squadron had been training for over the past 12 months culminated in the DATE rotation at JRTC. The 20 days we spent in the field were the longest sustained time I had spent in a field environment and it was both a challenge and a blessing.
The challenges included living in austere conditions for almost three weeks (yes, I wore the same uniform the entire time) and working to provide religious support to my unit which by its very nature is often spread out across large swaths of land. I was blessed to have a great Religious Affairs Specialist who was right there with me every step of the way embracing the suck.
We were able to provide services that covered every unit in the Squadron including one where we had around 50 soldiers in attendance. Plus, at the end of our field time on September 11 I had the opportunity to lead a 9-11 remembrance for another 40-50 soldiers.
A few weeks after returning from JRTC I had the Army Ten-Miler in D.C. What a way to spend the weekend of my 32nd birthday! I’m fortunate enough to have family who work in D.C. so I was able to stay with my sisters-in-law. They treated me to a lot of the sights and tastes of the area including a great birthday dinner that culminated in a sundae the size of my head (no small feat) with a highway flare for a candle.
The race itself was a lot of fun. It was more than twice the size of the half I ran in Savannah last November so the entire ten miles were packed with runners. It was awesome to get to run along the National Mall surrounded by hundreds of other people. Plus, the weather was beautiful and I ended up with a time that I was very pleased with.
Two days after returning from D.C., my unit conducted a Spur Ride. A Spur Ride is a tradition observed by cavalry units that dates back to the 19th century and it gave new troopers (called “shave tails”) an opportunity to earn their spurs by proving their mettle to the spur holders in the squadron. What that looked like for my unit was ten lanes spread out over a large swath of a training area on Fort Stewart. The spur candidates got to ride helicopters out to the training area and then navigated the training area on foot for the next 24 hours wearing body armor, kevlar helmet, and a loaded down backpack.
Each lane tested us spur candidates on different essential soldier skills. There was much low-crawling through mud, physical activities, and tests that challenged everyone mentally and physically. The Spur Ride culminated with a 12 mile ruck march that we started at around 2:30 in the morning.
Happily, myself and my assistant were among those who earned their spurs. The spur ride started with around 140 candidates and about 95 earned their spurs.
Finally, a couple days after the Spur Ride, we had a Squadron Ball at a nice hotel in downtown Savannah. Laura rented a dress and looked absolutely amazing. I had the opportunity to prepare the “hooah” video for the Ball, offer the empty place setting toast to our fallen soldiers, and to offer the invocation and benediction. It was a fitting capstone event for a week with a lot of esprit de corps built by the Spur Ride. I can’t say enough about my unit and the folks I get to work with and the soldiers I get to serve in the unit.
So as you can tell it has been an incredibly busy few months!
Now here are some pictures from each of the things described above: