GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Volunteers from different services came together to simulate deployment for over 100 children at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Nov. 3.
“This is an important program for the kids of military families,” said Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander. “It gives the kids a little more understanding of what their parents may be doing when they go away, sometimes for as long as a year.”
The children started the day by coming on base where they were taken to the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Academy high bay, volunteers greeted them and gave them their welcome packet, complete with ‘orders’ and a checklist that they had to have signed off. They continued down the line to receive their equipment, including a t-shirt and backpack to store their packet in. After receiving all of their gear they had to be ‘cleared’ by medical and dental, then they could get their face painted while waiting to continue to further events and demonstrations.
This year Operation KIDS featured demonstrations from the K-9 unit of Security Forces, the children were also able to go through one of the fire trainers at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy. They also got to work together to try the obstacle course on base.
Retired Staff Sgt. Art Fernandez the 3rd, father of a participant, spoke about how the program helps children understand a little of what may be going on when parents have to leave.
“It is awesome to see the kids get to go through different events,” said Fernandez. “We are really thankful to the base and the commander for opening this up to the children.”
“I really liked the combined training,” said Art Fernandez the 4th, a veteran of three years at Operation KIDS on Goodfellow. “I liked how we get to help each other through things. It’s really, really, really fun.”
Volunteers took charge of one of eight groups that went through the different demonstrations and obstacles. The groups were split according to age and stayed with their ‘Drill Instructor’ for the entire day.
“I love working with the kids and helping them develop,” said Airman 1st Class Joshua Krischke, 17th Communications Squadron cyber operations technician. “The firehouse demonstration was amazing, and letting the kids see the different aspects of different their jobs, I think it really helps the personnel on base have an easier time when the may have to deploy.”
“We try to vary the events from year to year,” said Master Sgt. John Baker, 17th Training Wing readiness NCO, coordinator of Operation KIDS. “None of this would be possible without the whole base's involvement, our sister services were out here helping and that is why this was able to happen for the kids.”
At the end of the event there were closing comments from Col. Mills and Chief Master Sgt. Lavor Kirkpatrick, 17th Training Wing command chief.
As a final test of the skills learned throughout the day Kirkpatrick had the entire group of attendees perform facing movements, salute and do pushups before the presentation of certificates.