“Rock Force” of 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, added a little spooky flavor Saturday to its annual Jane Wayne Day on Sand Hill. About 120 family members of unit Soldiers conquered Eagle Tower, took the “slide for life,” fired blanks out of M240 B machine guns and tackled a confidence course as part of the longtime military tradition.
Afterward, they were treated to a Halloween festival at battalion headquarters featuring a haunted house, costume contest and games for the kids.
“We basically took the idea of Jane Wayne Day and rolled it into a Halloween party we’re calling ‘BOO-Fest,’” said 1st Sgt. James Litchford of B Company. “It’s a chance for all of us to come together and build some camaraderie. This also lets the wives and family members see a little bit of what their husbands do.”
Eagle Tower offered a series of challenges — from scaling the landmark structure to rappelling its 40-foot wall.
“Some of the wives were very hesitant to go down the rappel tower,” Litchford said. “Take that, multiply it by two or three, and that’s what we deal with every day with the privates.” The battalion’s Soldiers are responsible for conducting one station unit training under the 198th Infantry Brigade.
At Saturday’s event, the unit had a Bradley fighting vehicle and Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle from the 29th Infantry Regiment on display. Family members stopped to get photos, in between taking turns shooting the M240 B and racing down the “slide for life,” an apparatus that simulates a parachute jump.
Litchford’s wife, Csilla, hurled herself off the platform a few times as their 5-year-old daughter, Zsofia, watched below.
“It’s fun — I never done it before,” she said. “Normally, I am so scared of everything all the time. I wanted to show my daughter it can be done. I am very overprotective, but I want her to try new things.”
Brittany Barnes, the spouse of Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Barnes, a drill sergeant, brought the couple’s daughter, Grace, 6, out to Jane Wayne Day. Both rode the “slide for life.” “I wanted to see what it was like,” Brittany said. “It wasn’t intimidating at all once you made the first step. It’s trusting the equipment. Once you know it’s got you, it’s fun.” Eagle Tower, however, was an entirely different matter.
“I got up there, looked over the ledge and said, ‘Maybe next year,’” she said.