Va. Guard Soldier escorts acting Secretary of the Army through shoot house

Staff Sgt. Christopher E. Rice (top right) is one of three Soldiers selected to escort acting Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning through a shoot house Nov. 18, 2015, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Rice received a challenge coin from Fanning for his efforts. (Courtesy photo)

Staff Sgt. Christopher E. Rice (top right) is one of three Soldiers selected to escort acting Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning through a shoot house Nov. 17, 2015, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Rice received a challenge coin from Fanning for his efforts. (U.S. Army photo by John G. Martinez)

SANDSTON, Va. – While training to become a 12B combat engineer, Staff Sgt. Christopher E. Rice was one of three Soldiers selected to escort acting Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning through a shoot house Nov. 17, 2015, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Rice is a Virginia Guard Soldier who works as an assistant operations noncommissioned officer at the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Rice explained and he and the other Soldiers were selected based on their knowledge, skills and experience with urban operations training. He said that all three of the Soldiers selected were former infantrymen.

According to Rice, the experience was a surprise.

“It caught me off guard,” he explained. “We knew there was a chance he could be visiting since he was on the ground at Fort Leonard Wood. We were in the process of going through [urban operations training] as a class and then the course manager called our names and briefed us on what we were about to be doing. It was slightly stressful, but a fun experience overall.”

Rice said the Secretary “most definitely” enjoyed the experience and was first issued a paintball gun before rolling right into the scenario with Rice and the other Soldiers as they worked to clear rooms and take down targets.

The shoot house was “a great culmination of manual breaching your way through doors and utilizing [urban operations] training to clear rooms and take out terrorist pop-up targets. It was very fast paced and gave a realistic stand point to training,” according to Rice.