Story by Patricia Dubiel on 08/23/2019These events and more entertained more than 250 guests that visited the Joint Readiness Training Center Aug. 17 to experience the military grandeur of a JRTC rotation.
Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commanding general, JRTC and Fort Polk, welcomed the visitors at the Bayou Theater that morning prior to their embarkation onto several buses that would shuttle them through the Box Tour.
"This is the Joint Readiness Training Center's chance to show people what it does on a daily basis," said Frank. "We have a great tour lined up here for them, a couple of surprises, and we hope to open (their) eyes to what goes on here at Fort Polk. I hope when they leave here today that they are very proud of their Army and everything that our Soldiers do here to train and get the Army ready in case we are called upon. This happens 11 times a year for us: We bring brigade combat teams in from across the Army, train them here for about a month, and that's what our guests will see out here today."
Col. Ryan Roseberry, Fort Polk garrison commander, said events like the Box Tour are "extremely important" so that the Families and the community can know what JRTC is all about.
"The majority of the Soldiers here are in the training area three weeks out of every month, 11 months a year, and that means they're not at home with their Families," said Roseberry. "This is the one day that Families, as well as members of the community, can come out and see things like combat operations, vehicles and weapons and today they're going to see Airborne operations as well. It's pretty impressive."
Sgt. 1st Class Gilberto Sanchez, Fire Support, Operations Group, brought his daughters Samara, 4, and Sophia, 10, along on the tour. He said he wanted his children to "see what daddy does" when he has to go to "the box."
"I have had to miss both of their birthdays, and I wanted them to see this and know what we do out here to train Soldiers," he said.
One of the younger guests, Christian Matos, age 9, said he liked watching the paratroopers jump out of the C-130 aircraft.
"The most exciting part was watching them parachute. It was very cool they looked like tiny Army men coming out of the plane. The helicopters were nice too it seemed like they were escorting the buses."
Col. David W. Gardner, commander, JRTC Operations Group, said the tour is a great way to showcase what Soldiers do at JRTC.
"I think the Family members always hear about the box,' and the tour allows those Families and members of the community to see what the Soldiers do when they are training or being the trainers at the Joint Readiness Training Center," he said.
Gardner added he was happy with the number of visitors that wanted to see the box.
"This is a great turn out. It's a good mix of guests, from Fort Polk Families to community members. I think the highlights of today's events were the explosions at ShugartGordon (training village named for Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shugart and Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon, who were killed in action during the Battle of Mogadishu) and the helicopters flying over the buses. I think people also got a kick out of the Airborne operations."
Gardner also said he appreciates "all the hard work that went into doing this event, and all the community members and Families that took the time to visit here today and see what our Soldiers do."