Story and photo by
Staff Sgt. Cashmere Jefferson
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs
WAHIAWA — Inclement weather did not stop volunteer Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, “Never Broken,” 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Bronco Brigade,” 25th Infantry Division, from conducting Physical Readiness Training, or PRT, conditioning drills for more than 400 students at Iliahi Elementary School, Aug. 14, here.
Spc. Tenesha Smith, primary PRT instructor, 3BCT, provided instructions and 1st Lt. Efren Catalla, 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., 3BCT, demonstrated exercises, which were broadcast on classroom televisions during the rain, enabling students and teachers to conduct exercises in unison indoors.
“It’s an awesome experience to volunteer here and to know that we can help the kids in any way possible, whether it’s physical strength or education,” Smith said.
Smith, who has volunteered at the school before, said she was excited to show the students that the military cares about their physical health.
The school’s acting principal, Phyllis Shipman, emphasized the importance of the military’s presence within the school.
“It is very important that the military is supporting the physical education of our students,” said Shipman. “They’re instilling a lifetime lesson of self discipline and physical fitness.”
While Smith and Catalla conducted the drills, other Soldiers went classroom to classroom providing positive motivation and ensuring that each student conducted the drills properly.
“Motivating the kids was fun,” said Spc. Thomas Riggs, 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., 3BCT. “The kids were excited, and so I was excited. It felt good to be a part of this.”
Christopher Chang, student services coordinator, said the students look up to the Soldiers as role models.
“They think these Soldiers are super heroes; you can see it on every child’s face,” Chang said. “I heard some say, ‘Look, there’s a Soldier!’”
Chang added that something as simple as leading exercises for students makes a real impact on their whole day.
First grade teacher Terry Arakaki had been missing the recently redeployed “Never Broken” battalion.
“We loved having this group here before they deployed. They helped read to the students, and we’re happy their back,” said Arakaki. “I especially love what they did here because it helps us teachers. We need the exercising, too.”