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Task Force 3-330’s Jane Wayne Day: Annual event draws 160 family members to Sand Hill

FORT BENNING, Ga. — The Army’s “civilians-to-Soldiers” training model took on new meaning July 10 at Sand Hill.

That’s when the families of 3rd Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment, got a small slice of Soldier life during the unit’s annual Jane Wayne Day. The event drew about 160 people to Sand Hill.

Jane Wayne Day, a longtime military tradition, allows spouses and family members to take part in key training tasks so they can gain a better understanding of what their Soldiers do. Battalion leaders said it also keeps families connected.

“They get to experience what some of the Soldiers do on a daily basis,” said MAJ Ron DeWeese, the battalion’s executive officer. “It builds cohesion. They get a new appreciation for doing some of these tasks.”

The family members tackled Eagle Tower, climbing the structure’s “A frame,” crossing a three-rope bridge and then rappelled a 40-foot wall.

Joanna Oviedo, 13, came down alongside her stepfather, SFC Jeremie Oliver, a drill sergeant with Task Force 3-330.

“I thought it’d be cool to do what he does,” she said moments after reaching the ground. “It wasn’t hard, just scary. I wasn’t sure if the rope was gonna hold me up or not. But he talked me through it.”

Nearby, the Soldiers’ loved ones took turns hurtling down the “slide for life,” leaping off a platform attached to cables while strapped to a harness. It’s designed to simulate a parachute jump.

“That’s always a hit,” DeWeese said.

The next station featured the Engagement Skills Trainer, or EST, a machine-gun simulator in which participants engage targets on a video screen. The computer system detects hits and misses.

A confidence course was scheduled, organizers said, but the day’s activities ran late due to the large turnout. The full group retreated to battalion headquarters for a cookout catered by Mike & Ed’s Barbecue.

Rebecca Fries, a Family Readiness Group leader and the wife of SFC G.W. Fries, a senior drill sergeant attached to the battalion, brought her three children to Jane Wayne Day — Cole, 10, Katelynne, 9, and 7-year-old Courtnie.

“It was a lot of fun out there today,” she said. “Our husband’s schedules are so (hectic), it’s important to get out and have events like this every chance we get.”

3rd Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment, a Reserve element from Michigan, conducts one station unit training for the 198th Infantry Brigade under a task force concept. It’s approaching the midway point of a yearlong assignment at Fort Benning.