(See photos at end of story)

WIESBADEN, Germany — Towering over one of his charges, Army Sgt. Maj. Victor Blade barks, and barks some more. He’s demanding to know why the individual’s field attire is, well, not up to standard, relaxed as it may be for the day.

The face under the helmet tilts upward, revealing the bill of a baby-doll pink ball cap. In Blade’s world, pink and green don’t mix, never will.

"My skin is very sensitive to the sun," Rebekah Deloach says coquettishly.

Blade fights back a smirk and orders the wife of a company commander to the ground for some push-ups. Despite the pink cap, the pushes weren’t pretty.

"I just wanted to be a little girly," Deloach later explained.

About 40 spouses took part Wednesday in the Iron Spouse Combat Badge Event, a course, of sorts, for spouses interested in learning more about how their partner in uniform spends the duty day. Some of the participants have spouses in Iraq, while others do not.

Held at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, the five-hour event included an obstacle course, a one-mile road march, a modified Army physical fitness test and a run through a weapon simulator. The 1st Armored Division spouses sported Kevlar helmets and flak jackets, carried M16s — unloaded, of course — and sampled Meals, Ready to Eat.

Taking part "makes you feel closer to them, since they are so far away," said Tina Pritchard, wife of Maj. Jack Pritchard, a lawyer.

Blade and his staff often stressed safety, which isn’t inconsistent with what a lot of leaders preach every day. He also emphasized to the spouses that when his shades drop into place, he’ll be his old, crusty self.

Even a chaplain got into the act, telling spouses that if they exceed a certain score, they’ll be heading downrange. That was before one of them, Monica Cales, shot a perfect 20-for-20 at the marksmanship station.

"The spouses want to be soldiers for a day," Spc. Donovan Mitchell said. "It gives them a little better understanding of what we do, as far as our training."

Mitchell manned the obstacle course, where spouses worked in teams to breach barriers and rescue an injured comrade.

During one session, the actor on the litter had to remind the spouses to tell her she was going to be OK. Juriette John obliged, and added, "You’re going to see your children."

Blade heard the exchange and complimented John later. Soldiers may fight for their nation, but war is also personal and home is never far from their thoughts. Telling an injured buddy to hang tough for his family isn’t out of the box.

"Those," Blade said, "are real words I’ve said on the battlefield."

Photo galleryPhotos by Michael Abrams / S&SSpouses of 1st Armored Division soldiers listen to an orientation at the beginning of the Iron Spouse Combat Badge Event at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Germany, on Wednesday. Antoinette Rashid takes careful aim at the weapons simulator. Christi Geremia pr0vides "security" for members of her squad as they prepare to carry off a "wounded" soldier on a litter. Paige West, right, and Christi Geremia crawl through the mud during the obstacle course. Her teammates watch as Juriette John swings across a pool of water on the obstacle course. In almost full battle rattle, spouses of 1st Armored Division soldiers march off to a task. Carrie Diaz and Tina Pritchard cheer on Pansy Walker as she does push-ups during the physical fitness test. Kelly Joiner races to the finish line of the 200-yard run. Stacy Hatfield is still smiling despite crawling through the mud during the obstacle course.

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