BBQ for the Troops

This past weekend we had the honor of participating in the 2nd Annual BBQ for the Troops at Ft. Riley Kansas in conjunction with the Ft. Riley Family Day activities. The BBQ portion was the brainchild and organized by Travis, and we thank him very much for including us:

Travis

Travis

Shortly after our arrival on post we got a tour that started at the Warrior Transition Battalion. The WTB is a temporary unit for wounded, injured and ill Warriors who have combat and noncombat injuries that are expected to require at least six months of rehabilitative treatment and have complex case management. We toured several of their offices as they explained their mission, and we went into the rec center for a group photo. The rec center is a nylon over steel structure of the same type our troops are using in Afghanistan and other places. While this one was used as a rec center, they come in various sizes that are used for everything from sleeping quarters to aircraft hangers. They are set up on a concrete slab and can be heated and air-conditioned:

Recreation center structure

Recreation center structure

From the WTB we went to the post museum. There are actually 2 museums, The U.S. Cavalry Museum and the 1st Infantry Division Museum. Immediately north of the museums is the parade ground and viewing stands along with several historical vehicles including a Sherman tank. In honor of it’s Cavalry history, there are also a couple statues on the grounds;

Statute honoring the U.S. Cavalry

Statute honoring the U.S. Cavalry

On the east side of the parade grounds stands the Custer House which is one of the original buildings constructed in the 1850s. The Custer House, building #24, was at one time believed to be where General George Armstrong Custer stayed while stationed at Ft. Riley in 1866, however it was later learned that he actually lived in building #21:

The Custer House Building #24

The Custer House
Building #24

The Calvary Museum is partly another one of the original buildings, as evidenced by the smooth stone like seen on the Custer House on portions of the building. It bears the date 1890 over the door when it was remodeled or added on to. The newer section shows the rough faces on the limestone indicating it was constructed in the 1890s.

The Ft. Riley Calvary Museum

The Ft. Riley Calvary Museum

It also had a 4 sided clock tower:

The clock tower on the U. S. Calvary Museum

The clock tower on the U. S. Calvary Museum

Inside the museum is of course a history of the U.S. Calvary especially as it relates to Ft. Riley. One of the interesting tidbits is Ft. Riley was the training site for equestrian events for the 1940 Olympics as well as other world competitions and there were several mementos of those events. While the static displays are interesting, we got to play “dress up”. As part of the museum’s effort to explain the life of the soldier, they have several period uniforms that people can try on. I was volunteered to be a Revolutionary War soldier:

Greg in a Revolutionary War uniform.

Greg in a Revolutionary War uniform.

Although I’m pretty sure the soldiers of that day had a much smaller belly than I do :)
The flintlock musket still had the flint in place and would spark when cocked and the trigger was pulled.
By the time we got to the Vietnam era Kristi was volunteered to stand in:

In uniform at the U.S. Calvary Museum

In uniform at the U.S. Calvary Museum

From right to left: Revolutionary War; Civil War; World War I; World War II; Vietnam.
We then went to the 1st Infantry Museum which traced the history of The Big Red One. It was another very interesting self guided tour and well worth the time. For more on the history of Fort Riley and the activities there, you can view their website at:

http://www.riley.army.mil

You can also like and view the Facebook pages for Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division here: https://www.facebook.com/1stInfantryDivision and here: https://www.facebook.com/FortRiley
After the tour we went back to the conference center to get started on the competition. After we were all set up we were introduced to our Wounded Warrior. Each team was assigned a soldier from the Warrior Transition Battalion to cook with them. Our soldier was Maria. Now I do not know how they paired up teams with soldiers, but it has been recommended that Maria have low back surgery. Kristi and I have both had surgery very similar to what Maria will have and I think we were able to give her some peace of mind by her being able to spend some time with us and see that back surgery will not be the end of the world.
It got quite chilly Friday evening, we had the Weber fire pit going:

Fire pit made from a Weber grill

Fire pit made from a Weber grill

There were at least 3 more fire pits in our area, but for some reason they couldn’t get the ambient temperature up enough for us.
I must give a special thanks to Loren and Lynette, who were our neighbors. Loren and Lynette are a part of the Band of Brothers BBQ, a non-competitive BBQ team whose mission is to support our troops. They provided a chili supper Friday evening and breakfast of biscuits and gravy Saturday morning. They also gave each team and their soldier a commemorative apron.

Our apron from Band of Brothers BBQ

Our apron from Band of Brothers BBQ

In addition to the apron, each soldier received a meat flipper. Kristi and I both took one look at the apron and decided it was a keepsake that would never be worn. Words cannot express what Loren and Lynette provided that weekend, we hope we get to work with them again.

Other activities were a glow run and DJ Friday evening, Saturday they had live music, wagon rides, inflatables and other things going on for the families. Here is a link to their photo album, be sure and like their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151959472276306.1073741855.80248171305&type=1
We were already up when they played revelry at 0600hrs, as the sun started making its way up the horizon I snapped a picture of our flag;

Our flag at sunrise

Our flag at sunrise

As the morning progressed and we got our meats ready for turn in we had a great time visiting with Maria and some of the other soldiers that were there. Maria was an eager participant, here she is turning in our brisket entry:

Maria turning in brisket

Maria turning in brisket

As the crowd gathered for awards:

Ready for awards

Ready for awards

I couldn’t help but notice how strikingly beautiful the gold colored leaves of the cottonwood trees were against the deep blue sky;

pretty

pretty

Even though Kristi and Maria were ready to claim their prize, we only got calls for 8th in chicken and 5th in ribs so no hardware.

Maria and Kristi ready for awards

Maria and Kristi ready for awards

The judges didn’t like our pork or brisket at all, but then the judges were all military generals and such and I figure all those years of MREs and military food have tainted their taste buds.
The one piece of hardware we did collect was one that was given to all the teams and one we will proudly hang in our home:
Ft. Riley 2013 122
Operation BBQ Relief cooked the meats for the over 1200 people who enjoyed the family day meal. It was good as always to spend some time with them.
It was an incredible weekend and an event that we hope to be even more involved with next year. We also plan to stay in touch with Maria and support her through the times ahead.