Fort Polk Public Affairs Office — Soldiers who reside on South Fort Polk in barracks near Bayou Theater now have a shorter, safer path to the installation’s commissary and Post Exchange area.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Feb. 10 officially opening Geronimo Trail. The path, once a slippery, muddy walkway over a rickety bridge and through encroaching brush, now features a new bridge, gravel footing and open spaces.
“This idea was a Soldier’s feedback that went to the commanding general,” said Lt. Col. Henry Moltz, commander, 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment. “The commanding general said this is what the Soldiers need. There is no better example of the chain of command listening to you and providing what you need.”
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment “Geronimos,” for whom the trail was named, are the primary beneficiaries, but other Soldiers who reside on the southern side of South Fort Polk will also benefit, said Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk.
“What the Geronimo Trail represents for Fort Polk is Soldier Quality of Life,” Frank said. “Soldiers always take the shortest point from their barracks to a place like the commissary, PX or barber shop, so Geronimo Trail is the shortest point, but it was in disrepair. Providing a Geronimo Trail that’s a respectable path from point to point allows our Soldiers a little bit better quality of life for a unit that’s always in the box.”
JRTC and Fort Polk Command Sgt. Maj. David W. Bass spoke with Geronimo Soldiers after the ceremony and challenged them to continue the unit’s tradition of producing talented leaders.
“If we can do something like this for you I think it’s great,” Bass said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Vladimir Querales, 1st Bn, 509th Inf Reg command sergeant major, said the trail is all about taking care of Soldiers and their quality of life in the Army.
“Don’t ever forget where you came from,” he said.
The Fort Polk Directorate of Public Works and PRIDE Industries joined forces to complete the project at Frank’s request. Tim Fitzgerald, a retired Soldier and part of the team that work on improving the trail, related a story from a Soldier who approached him as work was nearing completion.
“I had a Soldier tell me he wanted to hug me and the trail was something the Soldiers had needed for a long time,” Fitzgerald said. “It was humbling. When you get that kind of input from Soldiers, it makes you proud to be part of this team.”
Col. Ryan K. Roseberry, Fort Polk garrison commander, recalled his time as a member of Geronimo.
“I was Geronimo here for four years and I was one of the first Geronimos paving a path through here, going from the troop area to the PX and commissary,” he said. “To see now that we’ve got bridges, gravel trail and lighting, this is what quality of life is. They just want to walk back and forth from their barracks to the commissary without fighting snakes — they get enough of that in the box — and this is a great way to do it.”
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