FORT LEE, Va. (July 7, 2011) --Many noncommissioned officers are quick to point out the ongoing challenge of impressing upon Soldiers the importance of safety.
The frequency of the same messages, they say, may have a desensitizing effect, and a little creativity every now and then may be required to raise awareness.
That's what members of the 59th Ordnance Brigade S-3 shop employed just before the July 4 extended weekend.
During a physical training session June 30, the Ordnance School leadership led the brigade formation on a 1.1-mile safety run that featured six live-action scenes including a barbecue get-together with the attendees indulging in alcohol and various accident scenes involving injuries, death and destruction.
"They (the organizers) wanted to take the Soldiers out of the ordinary PowerPoint safety presentation," said Sgt. Maj. Christopher Fludd, the brigade S3. "They wanted to give them something they could almost touch and feel. That formed the basis of this run."
The Soldiers had no prior knowledge about the setup prior to the run. The cadence callers sang safety cadences when the formation elements approached the scenes. None of the run formations were stopped so Soldiers could view them, creating a sense of anticipation and buzz among the runners.
At the end of the run, which ended on a PT field near Oaklawn Boulevard, the participants were treated to the final episode of the drama - a mock funeral complete with all the dressings.
"We had a casket, people dressed up in suits and a grieving mother," said Fludd. "We even had bugler playing ‘Taps.'"
During the procession, Fludd said he took note of Soldiers' reaction and knew the message had made a connection.
"I knew we hit the mark," he said. "They really didn't know what was going on during the run, but when they heard that volley (of gunfire) during the funeral, I heard some of them say, ‘Is that real? Is this really going on?'"
The students became wide-eyed and attentive. That made the Chief of Ordnance and the Regimental Command Sergeant Major's job easy. Col. (P) Clark W. LeMasters Jr., and Command Sgt. Maj. Sultan Muhammad both briefly addressed the run participants.
"They said that this is what careless actions and not thinking about safety can lead to," said Fludd. "You could see it in the Soldiers' eyes, their brains turning - ‘This could be me. This could be my mother grieving.'"
Fludd said the Soldiers in his shop and others did a great job with the run, but acknowledges it will be hard to top. "There is probably nothing that could top this run, but we're always trying to reinvent ourselves," he said.
Fludd said the 59th's next major safety brief is scheduled prior to the Labor Day weekend.