Gatesville: Community embraces troops training on North Fort Hood

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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) Gatesville has embraced tens of thousands of troops, many of whom have never seen combat, providing a touch of home to many preparing to head overseas.

(Photo by Rhyan Henson)

North Fort Hood serves as the final training ground for Army Reserve and National Guard troops before they head to other parts of the world.

At North Fort Hood, the troops, “Form, norm and perform as a unit right before they go down range and deploy,” Col. Brian Payne said.

Payne is one of the instructors responsible for making sure the troops have the necessary skills to deploy and make it home safely.

But it’s the North Fort Hood Ministry’s mission to provide a sense of home to the troops preparing for combat.

“The soldiers at North Fort Hood have left their communities behind, they are not a normal active-duty soldiers,” organizer Diana Fincher said.

“They cannot go home to their families every night. For all practical purposes they are deployed here at North Fort Hood and are on lockdown to the post.”

Fincher heads the organization, which doesn’t let a wave of Army Reserve or National Guardsmen on post without experiencing Central Texas hospitality.

Fincher’s ministry gets soldiers involved in different events from rodeos to football tailgates.

“Gatesville really knows how to open their hearts to our soldiers and give them a real warm Texas hug,” Payne said.

The organization of more than a dozen Central Texas churches banded together in 2011.

But since that time the troops have flipped the tables.

“We want to do for them, but they won't let us just give,” Fincher said.

“They want to give back. So they supply us with all kinds of support for our events. (During) Food for Families there will be military support here helping with the Gainesville Care Center.”

Fincher and Payne know that combining the communities through faith and a sense of home ends in one way: mission complete.