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Fort Campbell’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s Unique Mentorship Course Aims at Saving Lives

3rd BCT Public Affairs, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT)

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionRakkasanFort Campbell, KY – Rakkasan soldiers are well-known for how hard they train for the dangers they face on the battlefield. Similarly, they prepare for the unpredictable hazards they may encounter on the roadways.

On March 21st, 2012, soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), gathered to stress the importance of safety during the Rakkasan Motorcycle Mentorship Course here at Fort Campbell, KY.

1st Sgt. Anthony Cristosomo, 1st Sgt., Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT), observes two of his soldiers navigate the obstacle course during the 3BCT Motorcycle Mentorship Course at Fort Campbell, Ky, Mar. 21, 2012. The course allows leaders to get an eyes-on with their soldiers to help indentify high risk riders. (Staff Sgt. Abram Pinnington/3rd BCT Public Affairs).
1st Sgt. Anthony Cristosomo, 1st Sgt., Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT), observes two of his soldiers navigate the obstacle course during the 3BCT Motorcycle Mentorship Course at Fort Campbell, Ky, Mar. 21, 2012. The course allows leaders to get an eyes-on with their soldiers to help identify high risk riders. (Staff Sgt. Abram Pinnington/3rd BCT Public Affairs).

This mentorship course is the only one of its kind within the division. The uniquely designed course pairs less experienced soldiers with seasoned riders to help teach them how to properly operate their motorcycle while leaders from the soldier’s chain of command gain knowledge of their subordinate’s skill level on a motorcycle.

“One of the keys to this training is for leaders to get an eyes-on their soldiers and identify high risk riders,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Bantosch, Command Sgt. Maj., 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT). “Also, veteran riders, like me, get a refresher course,” Bantosch said.

The brigade planned the course in late March to help prepare their motorcyclists for the upcoming riding season.

“It’s March, soldiers might have just pulled their bikes out of storage and dusted them off,” said Skip Stuck, safety manager, 3rd BCT, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT). He also added, “This helps them get reacquainted with their bikes thus helping them be safer on the roads this spring.”

The course is broken down into three sections; an inspection of their bike, a safety video and or safety class, and a motorcycle obstacle course.

All participants start by reviewing the safety checklist published by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

“We went through the recommended checklist with the soldiers, step by step,” said Stuck. “By going through this checklist, we helped identify four motorcycles with deficiencies.”

Thanks to the checklist portion of the course, instructors were able to identify and correct various safety concerns such as: bad brakes, low air on tires and potential oil leaks.

“We were able to fix the bikes right there and then, allowing the soldiers to leave here with a bike that wouldn’t be a danger to them or anyone else on the road,” Stuck expressed proudly.

Once all bikes passed inspection, it was time to move onto the safety class.

During the class, Command Sgt. Maj. Bantosch and 1st Sgt. Anthony Cristosomo, 1st Sgt., Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd BCT, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT), explained the dangers of sharing the road with cars, the foolishness of reckless driving, and also explained the basic principles of riding during in-climate.

“Most accidents that involve motorcycles, the rider did everything right; It was the driver of the car, who wasn’t paying attention that causes the wreck,” Cristosomo explained to the group. He also stressed to the soldiers, “You have to anticipate every car and what they could do. Keep your eyes open and always pay attention.”

Once the bikes were given the green light, riders were educated on safety; time to maneuver an obstacle course, showcasing their ability to properly navigate the roadways.

“We designed the obstacle course to ensure the soldier is riding the correct bike that is the proper size for the individual, as well as if they are in need of additional training,” Stuck explained. “We condensed the obstacle course with sharp turns to expose a soldier if they are riding a bike that may raise a red flag or if their skill level is a cause for concern.”

If a soldier is identified as needing additional training, they’re immediately given one-on-one assistance.

Once every rider had successfully completed the course, participants were encouraged to conduct the Rakkasan esprit de corps ride. The Rakkasan-pack rode from Fort Campbell to Dover, TN. Returning on a route along the Cumberland River, concluding in downtown Clarksville, TN.

“The brigade takes their well-being and safety serious and this course proves that,” said Stuck. “We want all Rakkasans to enjoy themselves. However, we want all of them to come home at the end of the day.”

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Abram Pinnington
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Abram Pinningtonhttp://www.facebook.com/rakkasan.pao
Currently, I am the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge of the 3rd Brigade Public Affairs staff, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a degree in Biology, I decided to serve in the United States Army after my father passed away in Dec. 2001. Being that he served in Vietnam as an infantryman in the US Marines, I decided to go the same route as my father. When I was told by the Marine Corps they could not guarantee that I would be an infantryman, due to my high test scores, I decided to go to the Army where they could guarantee me, in-writing, a future in the infantry. However, while in basic training I was selected and given orders to report to where I had the honor and privilege of serving within the 3rd United Stated Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, in Fort Myer, Va. While stationed there I had the distinct honor of participating in full-honor military funerals in Arlington National Cemetary. While at Fort Myer, I successfully completed a training program and was accepted into the Continental Color Guard where I had the honor of being a part in major events such as: President Bush's second inauguration, President Regan's funeral (California sequence), President Clinton's Presidential Library grand opening ceremony, World War II memorial dedication ceremony, President Ford's funeral, 2004 World Series (games 3&4), 2005 Super Bowl, 2004 MLB All-Star Game, 9 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races, 3 Monday Night Football games, and my personal favorite; The Pope Benedict XVI visit with President Bush in 2007. In 2005, I was selected to become the 81st member of the Presidential Escort Team, known as the "Hawk Team." During my tenure in the Hawk Team, my duty description entailed escorting the President of the United States within the walls of the White House whenever a foreign figure of importance would arrive. I was personally engaged by and stood next to some of the world's most powerful men and women during my two-year duty inside the White House. Some of the most notable international figures I had the pleasure of escorting were: Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Israeli Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, Japanese Prime Minister  Junichiro Koizumi (escorted at the White House and Graceland, Tn), Queen Elizabeth II, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, President George H. W. Bush, and primarily escorted President George W. Bush. In 2007, I was selected by the Department of the Army to serve as a recruiter in Fort Wayne, In. There, I served four years as a recruiter, recruiter team leader and assistant station commander. While assigned to the United States Army Recruiting Command I earned the prestigious Glen E. Morrel Award for Recruiting Excellence. In 2010, I decided to pursue my dreams of working in Major League Baseball. I changed my military occupation specialty to Public Affairs so I could work my way to have the best resume I could possibly have to help land a MLB public relations or community relations position some day. While currently serving as the PAO NCOIC at Fort Campbell, Ky, I am studying for a second undergraduate degree in Public Relations and plan to graduate from Syracuse University in 2014. I am blessed to have a wonderful and loving wife, Lindsay. Without her, I wouldn't be half the person I am today. It takes a strong woman to be a military spouse and she does it effortlessly. I am lucky to have such an amazing women next to me. When I have spare time in the Spring and Summer, I find myself watching baseball (GO CUBBIES!), camping, wine tasting, and enjoying the outdoors. During the fall and winter, it is a safe bet I can be found in a duck blind or in the brush hunting quail or pheasant with my Hungarian Vizsla, "Gus." I'm firm believer that hard work pays off. Dream big, work hard.... but enjoy life while you're at it.  
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