News: Operation Hero introduces kids to deployment process
Story by Staff Sgt. Ashley Hawkins
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- The Langley Airman and Family Readiness Center hosted its eighth annual Operation Hero, Nov. 14, at the 1st Fighter Wing Static Display Hangar. Operation Hero is an event that gives children of Airmen insight into what their parents go through during deployments.
The goal of the program is to ease the stress of deployments on children and maintain family unity. At the event, children interacted with Airmen to simulate a deployment line, including receiving orders, getting fitted in protective gear and wearing concealment face paint.
"This experience teaches children what their parents do at work and during deployments," said Tech. Sgt. Letrecia Williams, AFRC program coordinator.
Children received a situation briefing, outlining their mission of recovering the fictitious Lt. Col. Mock’s puppy, Buster, from terrorist captivity in an area amusement park. .
Following their briefing, the “deployers” observed a military working dog demonstration provided by soldiers from Fort Eustis.
After a tour of the installation’s emergency response vehicles, children began processing through the “personnel deployment function line,” consisting of face painting, hands-on gear orientation and, of course, receiving snacks and a “mobility kit,” a box of takeaway goodies provided by USO of Hampton Roads.
Exhibits along the line allowed children to interact with Team Langley Airmen, who fitted them in Kevlar gear, taught self-aid and buddy care, and even explained and demonstrated the different weapons and ordnance Airmen use while deployed.
The goal of the event is to ease the minds of children who don't yet understand what happens during deployments, taking some of the stress out of what can be a frightening experience.
“This is a great opportunity for families, mostly the kids,” said Master Sgt. Darrius Stone, also an AFRC program coordinator. “It’s a fun way of understanding what their parents do.”
Maj. Jenise Carroll, 633d Force Support Squadron commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Charles Anderson, 633d Air Base Wing command chief, called the event “unique,” and highlighted the benefits the program gives to families.
“It’s a fantastic venue for children to understand what their parents do to defend our country,” the chief said.
Katie, the 7-year old daughter of Headquarters Air Combat Command’s Maj. Roger Schabron, took advantage of all the stations throughout the line. Of the variety of activities for children to participate in, Katie said she enjoyed SABC the most.
“I really liked the medical part,” she said. “I had fun wrapping the bandages. That was the best part.”