Crestview Mayor JB Whitten joined committee chair Ryan Price and fellow members of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee on a boots-on-the-ground — or rather, in the water — tour behind the gates of the 6th Ranger Training Battalion.
CRESTVIEW — Mayor JB Whitten doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty as he immerses himself in the tasks of leading the city.
On Monday, he plunged wholeheartedly into learning more about the mission of the nearby U.S. Army Rangers camp as many of the Rangers live in Crestview.
Whitten joined committee chair Ryan Price and fellow members of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee on a boots-on-the-ground — or rather, in the water — tour behind the gates of the 6th Ranger Training Battalion.
"As a retired Air Force sergeant, I knew my brothers in the Army are pretty tough, too," Whitten said. "I was glad I could still keep up with them!"
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Maj. Gen. Gary Brito, from Fort Benning, Georgia, and 6th RTB Commander Col. James Pritchett, greeted and welcomed the group.
A brief reptile demonstration followed before they began to hike through the woods.
"We trucked out to get a taste of a river crossing — and in some cases, I do mean taste," Price said.
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They soon were paddling Zodiac inflatable boats over the Yellow River, followed by what Price described as "a jaunt through the swamp.
"The true fun of walking through the swamp hides under the water," he said. "Just ask the participants that found themselves swimming after they tripped." The mayor, incidentally, was not one of those who were less sure of foot.
"Those roots were something," Whitten said. "You couldn’t see them in the murky water and could easily fall."
The group then went back to Camp Rudder, where they tried on 80-pound rucksacks before a well-earned pulled pork lunch.
The group also tried some small arms target practice and hatchet throwing.
"Thank you, Rangers, for always leading the way, and giving us a glimpse into your world," Price said, echoing the group’s sentiments.
"It’s good to know we’ve got these soldiers as part of our community," Whitten said. "We’re fortunate to have them."