By 1st Lt. Joe Trovato
Wisconsin National Guard
MADISON, Wis. - More than 120 military children took part in "Take Your Child to Work Day," April 25, at Wisconsin's Joint Force Headquarters and the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis.
The annual visit to the Wisconsin National Guard facilities came as the military concluded a month that honored the service and sacrifice of military children.
Dubbed the "Month of the Military Child," April is set aside as a time to pay tribute to the children behind each soldier and airman. The month's observance gave special meaning to the day.
"I think it is important for the military to also have the same opportunities as the private sector with Take Your Child to Work Day mostly because military children face unique situations, and it's helpful for the kids to see what their parents go through, to see the daily life that they live, and just be integrated into that aspect," said Shawna Wyman, the child and youth program coordinator for the Wisconsin National Guard.
Wyman called the day a, "huge success."
"From what I've heard from the kids so far, they all seem to be enjoying it," she said during the day's events. "It's what makes my job what it is."
The day began with a bang as the children watched from the flight line as F-16 Falcons from the 115th Fighter Wing took off from Madison's Truax Field.
"Probably going and seeing the F-16s fly off," said Kade Ellingworth, 11, of Lodi, Wis., when asked what his favorite part of the day was. "That's the first time I've ever seen any jets fly off like that, and sometimes it's just fun to see new things."
Kade's uncle, Sgt. 1st Class Nick Sosa, of the 54th Civil Support Team, brought him to Madison for the day.
The children also toured a Wisconsin Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and the Truax Field fire station before visiting with Air National Guard security forces personnel, who allowed them to try on tactical equipment and hold the same weapons used by soldiers and airmen.
The security forces visit was 10-year-old Mitchell Hahn's favorite part of the day.
"I want to be in some type of military. I don't care if it's Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Army," he said. "But my main goal is to be in security forces, because you would get to wear stuff like night vision goggles, and gas masks, and all this armor, and you'd get to go on missions and all that."
Mitchell's mother, Kim, a master sergeant in the 115th Fighter Wing, brings her son to the event each year.
Following the security forces visit, each group met with representatives from the 115th's explosive ordnance disposal team and got to meet "LaFonda" – the unit's robot. They also donned the team's equipment and learned about some of the explosive devices the team has disarmed in the past.
After a lunch in the 115th "chow hall," a full afternoon slate of activities concluded with a physical training, or, "PT," session.
Throughout the day, the children got to see the kind of gear that pilots wear and an F-16 up close, but as 11-year-old Kade said, the best part of the day was the time spent with loved ones.
"I just like hanging out with him," he said of his uncle.