The Families of Soldiers of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, were invited to spend an afternoon with the unit June 29 at the 509th obstacle course, located in the median between Georgia and Alabama avenues.

The Families of Soldiers of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, were invited to spend an afternoon with the unit June 29 at the 509th obstacle course, located in the median between Georgia and Alabama avenues. But the event held more meaning than the organizational days of the past. There were the obligatory barbecues, Frisbees, music and even a little friendly competition, but there was also a briefing by Lt. Col. Jimmy Hathaway, the new 509th commander. He laid out plans to balance unit training, rotational support and block leave over the next two years so that the Families would have the same information as the Soldiers, and they were getting it right from the commander’s mouth. Including Families in this briefing is indicative of how much it means to have them be part of the Geronimo team, according to Capt. Curtis Clerkley, company commander, A Company, 1st Bn (Abn), 509th Inf Reg.

“This is a holistic team effort. A Soldier is only as strong as every part of him, and that includes his Family,” Clerkley said. “We don’t see a Family as a separate attachment, it’s a part of who he is. The Family is his team. If we don’t include his Family into our team, that Soldier may not feel like he’s part of our team.”

Hathaway opened up the briefing for any questions, especially from the Families.

“We just want to make sure everyone understands they have a voice, and we want them to know who is to their left and right, and who they can count on and trust,” said Clerkley. “We spend a lot of time away from our Families when we are in the field, so our Families need to be able to connect and know who they can lean on.”

The event included a static display that showcased some of the vehicles, weapons and uniforms the “G-men” use in their role as opposing forces. Soldiers dutifully explained their tools of the trade to anyone that stopped by their station.

One activity took center stage at the event: The Geronimo Jane obstacle challenge. This was a scaled down version of the obstacle course the 509th uses in its physical training, and spouses were invited to run the course with or without their Soldier. Those who completed the course received a Geronimo Jane T-shirt. Children were also allowed to run the course with a parent, but most were happy enough to simply cheer for their moms from the sidelines. It was common to see spouses help each other over some of the tougher obstacles, some even getting an assist from Soldiers manning the course.

“It’s all about the team,” said Clerkley. “We just wanted everyone to come out here today and be part of our team, look at the displays, get some food and have fun.”

Family member Aleonajamia Willis said she enjoyed trying out the obstacle course. “We never get to do the fun stuff like this,” she said. “This was a chance for us to feel strong.”

Family member Lisa Redford said she enjoyed the day’s activities. “It’s great to bring the Families out to spend the day with their Soldiers and build relationships with other spouses,” said Redford. “It’s also fun for the kids to see what their daddies do.”