‘Heavy Trucks’ hold O-Day event for Soldiers, families
Sgt. Erik Thurman,
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs:
Soldiers and family members of the 377th Transportation Company “Heavy Trucks,” 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, took a day away from their normal duties to participate in the unit’s annual organizational day June 8 at Bradley Sports Complex.
Organizational Days or “O-Days” are common throughout the Army and aim at bringing servicemembers and their families together for a day of building morale and camaraderie within the unit.
The event began in the early morning hours with a “fun run,” which incorporated family members into the unit’s daily physical training regimen. Afterward, Soldiers and their families headed to the Bradley Sports Complex for a day of softball, football, bowling and barbecue. In keeping with O-Day tradition, the Heavy Trucks provided a dunk tank, which gave O-Day participants a chance to “dunk” their commander, first sergeant or platoon sergeant into a pool of water with one good throw of a softball.
Family members also had a chance to dunk their Soldier’s leaders, perhaps out of vengeance for those sometimes late nights or for the everyday stresses that come with military life. The practice is not about spite, according to the company’s leadership, but it’s all in good fun and serves as a small acknowledgement by the Heavy Truck’s chain-of-command that they are aware of the sacrifices made by Soldiers and their families every day.
“Soldiers are the most precious resource that we have,” said Capt. Emily Poole, Heavy Trucks commander. “Behind every Soldier – even single Soldiers – is their family.”
She said that it is important for the Heavy Trucks to involve family members so they will know they are part of the company’s team, which goes a long way in boosting a Soldier’s morale.
“These activities are important. They allow the Soldiers to have some down-time together and bond,” Poole said. “When we bring the family members in, we want them to feel like they are part of the company because they are. We are responsible for them and every decision that we make affects them as well.”
As the Heavy Trucks prepare for another deployment, Sgt. Anthony Simone, a truck driver assigned to the Heavy Trucks, knows the value of including his family in unit events.
“If there is a situation that arises back here [while Anthony is deployed] and my wife needs help with something here, knowing the other families gives her another resource that she can use,” said Anthony.
Simone said that a Soldier should not want to be the type who never talks about their day or who leaves their spouse in the dark about what they do and who they do it with. He said that it is important that he include his family in events like the O-Day, because it gives his wife a chance to put names to faces which he may have mentioned at home. That helps her to be more included in the company.
But the benefits that come from O-days like building support networks or boosting morale are really just positive byproducts of another very important factor – having fun.
“This gives them a chance to relax, get away from the work environment, build that unit or platoon cohesion and just go out there and have fun,” said 1st Sgt. Derek Cook.
As the event went on, Soldiers and family members sat in circles formed by lawn chairs while children jumped in bounce houses or climbed obstacles on the playground. Laughter and enthusiastic voices filled the air while smoke from the grills drifted in the air overhead. Some families and friends took the softball field while others, including Cook took to the bowling alley with Cook, taking an early lead while playing against several of his Soldiers.
“As a company first sergeant, it’s an important for me to have a good understanding of Soldiers’ morale,” said Cook. “Organizational days not only give leaders a chance to gauge morale but allows them to actively participate in making it better. Because at the end of the day everything we do is about the Soldier. And having family members here is key because for many Soldiers, their families are a major part of why they do what they do.”
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