Kids' Deployment Day teaches how it's done
By Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 17, 2014
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
Most Airmen know the feeling of going through a deployment line, picking up gear and getting brief after brief before heading out on their mission. This week the children of Spangdahlem "deployed" instead of their parents. The 52nd Fighter Wing hosted a Kids' Deployment Day for students from Bitburg and Spangdahlem elementary school at Spangdahlem Air Base April 15 - 17.
Students in kindergarten through sixth grade enjoyed the day learning the process of how their parents prepare to deploy for real-world operations.
"This was a chance for us to show the kids what it's like going through a deployment process," said 2nd Lt. Steven Milligan, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron wing installation deployment officer from Salt Lake City. "Our goal with this is to make it fun and exciting for the children."
In order to deploy, the students first needed a mission from 52nd LRS.
"Our scenario is we are sending the kids to Madagascar to build an elementary school so kids out there can have a place to learn," Milligan said. "It's a chance for them to make-believe and just feel like they are going out to help someone in an area because that's what we do when the grownups deploy. Our whole goal is to help people."
The deployment line separated into four sections including briefings, gear pick up, static vehicle displays and a tour of a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft.
"The mobility bag section is going to allow the kids to try on different gear, hold different gear, and feel how heavy the bullet proof vests are," Milligan said. "At the vehicle static display section, they will go through the vehicle, be able to climb on board and honk on the horns."
Volunteers and teachers supervised the students throughout their whole three-day deployment process.
Airman 1st Class Ariel Bedsaul, a 52nd Operations Support Squadron airfield management lead from Leesville, La., escorted the children and made sure they stayed in the group.
"It was entertaining; the kids had a lot of different expressions, a lot of different things to talk about," Bedsaul said. "It reminded me of what it was like to be in third grade."
Bedsaul expressed the value she saw in this experience for the students.
"I think some of them being in third grade see their parents go through it so they kind of have a gest of it," Bedsaul said. "I think it's unique they got a chance to go through and see and feel the same things their parents do."
The planning process for the Kids' Deployment day started in December.
"It's one thing when you're planning things for adults, who can take care of themselves or if something goes wrong, they can figure it out," Milligan said. "But when you have almost 700 children you're trying to plan for, it's a little bit more nerve-wrecking. I have a really good team help me out. If it wasn't for their help, this day wouldn't have happened."
Milligan cited giving children an insight into how their parents is a key aspect of this project.
"I hope the kids leave with just having a whole bunch of fun," Milligan said. "I would like them to have a better understanding of what their parents go though and how hard it is for their parents to leave them."