News: Texas Guardsmen share trucks with community
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego
ROUND ROCK, Texas - Horns and alarms blared throughout the day on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, as the Parks and Recreation Department of Round Rock, Texas, conducted its second annual “Touch a Truck” event at Old Settlers Park. The gathering invites families out for a day where children can play on specialized and emergency response vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances, police vans, agriculture equipment and military carriers.
Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) was on site for the second year in a row demonstrating for the citizens of Round Rock and north Austin what the Texas National Guard can do to support the community.
“It’s very important that the National Guard gives back to our community,” said Spc. Billy Jones, a human resources specialist with HHC, JTF-136 (MEB). “This is the thing that we love to do, especially wearing the uniform and being among the community, our city.”
The event featured vehicles from more than a dozen local agencies and departments, along with refreshments, snacks, and a recreational sand pit for building sand castles.
“We have about 20 different types of vehicles out here,” said Kelly Gaydos, Recreation Program coordinator for the Round Rock Parks and Recreation Department. “Kids can climb on them, honk the horns.”
Children were encouraged throughout the day to touch, climb on, and ask questions about their favorite trucks in a safe, supervised environment.
From the official website, “Touch a Truck provides a unique opportunity for children to explore vehicles of all types – public service, emergency, utility, construction, transportation, delivery, and just plain cool – all in one place.”
“We’d like for them to be able to experience the machines and also to not be afraid of them,” said Gaydos. “[We want them] to know what good they do for our community.”
JTF-136 (MEB) supported the event with an armored Humvee, a traditional canvas Humvee, and a light medium tactical vehicle (LMTV). Soldiers on site helped children maneuver in and out of drivers’ seats, the gunner turret, and the LMTV cargo bed.
“It’s important for us to be out here today to show the community involvement,” said Spc. Larissa Cofran, a signal operator with the 625th Signal Company. “To show the kids that we’re here at all times, not just during natural disasters.”
The success of the event resonated with each child’s laughter and sense of excitement as they engaged the large vehicles of their heroes.
Amy Cantrell, a resident of Round Rock and visitor to the day’s festivities, enjoyed sharing the day with her daughter saying, “It’s just a fun morning to experience something that we haven’t seen before.”