News: 'Real' soldiers share their Army stories with elementary students
By Tim Shannon
First Army Division East Public Affairs
FORT MEADE, Md. - “Did you see that?”
“That’s a real soldier!”
Soldiers assigned to First Army Division East Headquarters and Headquarters Division received enthusiastic greetings when they arrived to participate in Career Day activities at Deerfield Run Elementary School, Laurel, Md.
First Sgt. Joseph Smith explained this career day was slightly different from others he participated in the past, because it was not on a military installation.
“I was excited to talk to the kids, especially since I was told it was a non-military school,” he said.
Going to a school where very few parents are in the military meant lots of questions and explanations for Smith and four of his soldiers.
“I was asked if I ever wore a [Modern Warfare2] Juggernaut Suit,” quipped Smith, a native of Rapid River, Mich.
Deerfield student Dolapo Fadahunsi asked, “Why do they have to wear their last name [on their uniform]?”
Smith said he and his soldiers enjoyed the experience and had a great time with the children. They weren’t the only ones having a good time. The students enjoyed themselves, as was evidenced by their enthusiastic questions, smiles and laughter.
“I felt excited when they came, because I have never saw a real soldier before,” Deerfield student Scarlety Martinez said enthusiastically.
Not only was the Career Day fun for the soldiers and the students, it was motivational as well, according to Smith.
“I talked to the children mainly about what I do in the military, why I joined, and why I stayed in,” he said. “One of the teachers told me, before we started talking, about a couple of kids who have been in trouble. So when I shared my story about why I joined the military. I think they could relate to me.”
Smith let the students know that, although he also had been in trouble before he joined, the Army allowed him to overcome those issues and excel. He motivated at least one young student.
“Yes, because it is fun to think of serving my country,” was the reply from Fadahunsi when asked whether he may consider a career in the Army.
“I participated because I enjoy sharing my experiences with the kids,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Hampton, a native of Alexandria, La. “I enjoyed it (the experience) because I feel like career day is an opportunity to provide positive information to the kids about what we do as service members.”
At the end of the day, both the soldiers and the students had a good time, and the students learned more about the Army and Army life – the whole reason behind Career Day.
“I learned that it is good to help your country, and they carry around 50 pounds,” said Daniela Depaz.
“I learned that you don't have to go to college. Also, I learned they go by their last name. Lastly the training is hard but easy sometimes. Also, in every branch they have different uniforms. Last, but not least, is that they fight all day and night, they have to be ready, and they have to sleep wherever they can.”
First Army Division East, headquartered at Fort Meade, Md., mobilizes, trains, validates deploys and demobilizes Reserve Component soldiers to theaters around the world including Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Horn of Africa. Comprised of eight brigades, DivEast ensures soldiers receive the intense training they need to perform hands-on theater-specific operations. When they return home, DivEast members ensure soldiers receive focused-care to ensure standardized and comprehensive demobilization support to resolve physical, mental, administrative and financial issues as well as providing benefits and resources to assist in their transition back to civilian life.