The Soldiers lined up as if they were in a race against time. For chocolate, jelly beans, marshmallow candies and prizes. When the countdown began and the go-ahead was given, more than 150 Soldiers took off in search of the coveted eggs.
The life of a deployed Soldier means missed holidays. But for the Soldiers of 501st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, deployed to Forward Operating Base Walton, Kandahar Province Afghanistan, they were able to relive a slice of their childhood through an Easter egg hunt.
Sgt. Alexandria Southern, the human resources sergeant for the battalion, and a native of Sierra Vista, Ariz., organized the hunt, along with the Soldiers in the S-1 shop.
“We were initially going to just do Easter baskets for each other, but thought it would be nice to do something for the entire battalion,” said Southern.
More than 3,000 candy-filled eggs were hidden in bunkers, gazebos, along windowsills and among equipment. In addition to the normal eggs, there were eight giant glittered eggs, filled with quotes from Soldiers around the battalion. The lucky ones to find the glitter eggs were awarded gift cards, donated for the event, totaling around $250.
Spc. Joseph Poag, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 501st BSB repair and utilities, and a native of Galt, Calif., won the prize for the most found eggs, at 178, nearly doubling almost every other Soldier’s find.
In addition to the $25 gift card Poag received, he also won a prize for the pin-the-tail-on-the-rabbit game, scoring himself additional candy. He also helped build the set for the hunt.
“Everyone had fun,” said Poag. “It stops the monotone boringness here, honestly.”
Organizing the battalion event took a little over a month, said Southern. Families in the states helped donate items.
“The hardest part was making sure we had enough to accommodate,” said Southern. For the Easter baskets, we got a bunch of bags and each one of them had an inspirational quote on them.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Carter, the battalion command sergeant major, and a native of Cincinnati, also participated in the event. Carter wore inflatable bunny ears for a ring-toss game.
“I thought it was awesome to have Soldiers see me participating with them,” said Carter. “I’m part of the team and I want them to know that and do anything I can to raise the morale of the Soldiers. They deserve everything they get.”
While all of the participants were adults – even some senior noncommissioned officers – many are away from their children for the holiday.
“The biggest thing is giving back,” said Southern. “I think the best part about it was when we said, ‘ready, set, go,’ and to see everyone actually excited to go out and find the eggs, because I know it can be hard. It was like giving an Easter egg hunt to our kids, but through someone else.”
It is great to see Soldiers taking the lead and organizing things on their own, said Carter.
In addition to the hunt, the Soldiers were able to participate in an egg-and-spoon race, a jellybean-counting contest, pin-the-tail-on-the-rabbit, a ring toss, and wear bunny ears and masks for a photo opportunity.