Story by Scott Sturkol on 03/21/2019During March each year, the Department of Defense and the Army recognize the accomplishments of women in support of military service and more during Women's History Month.
At the same time, each March at Fort McCoy since 2017, women have been training in the Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC) on post, enduring 14 days of physical training in the cold and snow of Wisconsin.
Dozens of women have been among the course graduates, and they've all done well, said Bill Hamilton, lead CWOC instructor, who works for contractor Veterans Range Solutions, which supports the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, or DPTMS.
"The course isn't easy," Hamilton said. "Students must work together to complete training tasks that are demanding, both mentally and physically."
In each class during the 2018-19 training cycle for CWOC, many women have said the CWOC was a challenge they enjoyed.
"Through this course, I challenged my limits with exposure to colder temperatures," said Pfc. Myriah Miller with the 824th Engineer Battalion of the Wisconsin National Guard at Spooner. Miller was a student in CWOC Class 19-02.
"This course (gave) me better insight to my strengths as a Soldier," Miller said. "I accepted each task and acted as a squad leader to help guide a squad of Soldiers through icy terrain."
In each session of CWOC training, students traverse through hilly terrain for dozens of miles on post. Students learn about skiing and snowshoeing, building improvised shelters and using ahkio sleds and an Arctic 10-person cold-weather tent.
They also learn about terrain and weather analysis, risk management, cold-weather clothing use, developing winter fighting positions in the field, camouflage and concealment, and more.
"Skiing was a great challenge for me too because I get a little shaky when it comes to heights, but I nailed it," Miller said. "Also, learning to make A-frames for (improvised) shelters and what works best for insulation was one of the best parts of this course."
Sgt. Natalie Limes with the 310th Chemical Company of Annisten, Ala., was a student in CWOC Class 19-01 in December 2018. She said she was glad she attended.
"I learned skills about things I normally would never have been exposed to," Limes said. "Learning how to properly wear the issued cold-weather clothing and learning how to prevent cold-weather injuries were great training items I can bring back to my home station. All of the training was great as it was things I have never done before."
"The training showed me that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything," said CWOC Class 19-01 student Pfc. Kaitlyn Doll with the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion with the Wisconsin National Guard at Waupaca. "The instructors for this course are amazing because they didn't try to make everything as one way to do things. They show you a way and then let you try new things and figure out what works for you."
Staff Sgt. Melissa Obcena with the 1002nd Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Training Company, which operates at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., took the training during CWOC Class 19-03. She said it helped her expand her skills and capabilities as a Soldier.
"It helped me learn how to survive in extreme cold weather," Obcena said. "Learning how to build a fire and make shelters were especially helpful."
The roles of women in the military are ever changing and expanding. For example, in 2015, the Army saw the first two women graduate from Ranger School. That continued effort for women's equality is also recognized in President Donald Trump's 2019 Women's History Month presidential proclamation.
"During Women's History Month, we celebrate the countless women whose courage and resolve have contributed to the character and success of our nation and the entire world," the proclamation states."Theequal opportunity of women in every facet of daily life is an essential feature of a free and prosperous society.
"This month, we honor women who have fought for equality and against the status quo, and who have broken the bonds of discrimination, partiality, and injustice for the benefit of all. These women created a legacy that continues to inspire generations of women to live with confidence, to have a positive impact on their communities, and to improve our nation every single day."
See more of the proclamation at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-womens-history-month-2019.
Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin. The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy.