Civilians experience Soldier life

Photo by Jim Burnett
Sgt. Otto Niesluchowski, Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, instructs Marc Wallace on the proper firing techniques of the M240B machine gun during the Leadership Fort Carson tour, Jan. 17.

By Cpl. William Smith

4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

Twenty-seven local community leaders from the Colorado Springs region had an opportunity to gain an inside look at a Soldier’s life Jan. 17, during the Leadership Fort Carson tour.

The leaders were invited by Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, to learn about and experience

a day at the post to help build lasting relationships between the local communities and the Soldiers of Fort Carson.

The day started at the Elkhorn Conference Center for breakfast and a welcome from Anderson. The guest speaker was Steve Bach, mayor of Colorado Springs, who spoke of the relationship Fort Carson and Colorado Springs have established throughout the years.

The group went to the division headquarters where Anderson presented a 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson briefing followed by a moderated discussion on leadership.

This was an open dialogue with Anderson for exchanging ideas and answering questions about Fort Carson and the Army. More than half of the visitors said that this time spent with Anderson was the best part of the day.

The Training Support Center, located in building 2012, was the next stop on the tour where Soldiers from the Fires and Effects Coordination Cell, 4th Inf. Div., met the group. Soldiers in full battle gear and TSC staff provided information about protective clothing and instructions on donning equipment. The group received hands-on training on the Equipment Skills Trainer 2000, M4 carbine simulator, improvised explosive device awareness training and observed the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer.

Lunch was at Stack Dining Facility where the group met 10 noncommissioned officers and 10 junior officers from 4th Brigade Support Battalion,

1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div. One-on-one discussions over lunch left a lasting impression with Lisa Buckley, chief executive officer, American Automation Buildings Solutions.

“(The Soldier) was inspirational,” said Buckley. “He is about to be deployed for the second time and is proud to serve and protect his country.”

After lunch the group went to range 115 for hands-on weapons training and live fire with Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.

The group received basic classes on moving a casualty on the battlefield, manning an observation post, wearing of all safety gear, loading and clearing a weapon, firing the M240B machine gun and watched downed gunner drills, where incapacitated vehicle gunners are swapped out with another Soldier.

“I loved firing the machine gun,” said Peter Braza, dean, college of letters, arts and sciences, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The leaders visited Survivor Outreach Services where Braza was moved by the sacrifices that Soldiers sometimes make for the love of their country.

“I found the Fallen Heroes Family Home to be very sobering; I just could not stop staring at the pictures of the Soldiers with their wives and kids,” he said. “I am grateful for all of those people who have made that sacrifice in service to their country.”

The day ended with a social at the Hub, where the 4th Inf. Div. Band played light jazz as the group mingled with brigade commanders, Fort Carson Good Neighbor Ryer Hitchcock and alumni from previous leadership tours. Brig. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves, deputy commanding general for maneuver, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, gave each attendee a certificate, along with the group photo taken with Anderson. Before presenting the certificates, Gonsalves gave each member of the group a chance to speak about their experience that day at Fort Carson. The majority said the interaction with the Soldiers was invaluable and the hands-on training was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I would absolutely come back if invited,” said Bill Becker, business development manager, Security Service Federal Credit Union. “I have several staff in the credit union I will look at bringing in. I have a fair amount of interaction with different leaders in (Colorado) Springs that I am going to tell that this is a good thing to go do.”

Braza said the experience has inspired him to want to do more.

“The people here are candid and I can’t help but be impressed,” he said. “I would do it again if provided with the opportunity. I would like to help out some of the Soldiers (who want to) come to UCCS and pave the way for them, either the current Soldiers or the ones on their way out.”

The quarterly held Leadership Fort Carson tour is happening again this spring and will be the fifth time in which Fort Carson has reached out to its neighbors in the Colorado Springs region to provide an in-depth view of what happens here on a daily basis.

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