Los Angeles AFB kids experience mock deployment

Los Angeles Air Force Base -- Approximately 50 Los Angeles Air Force Base families participated in Operation KUDOS - Kids Understanding Deployment Operations - Nov. 18 at Fort MacArthur.

The morning kicked off at 9 a.m. with children processing through the deployment line. They were greeted by the 61st Medical Group's First Sergeant, Master Sgt. Thomas Raupach, who asked them readiness questions such as "Did you make your bed this morning?" and "Have you done everything your parents asked you to?" The remaining stations on the line consisted of personalized dog-tag issue, simulated shots, medicine cups with Skittles, government travel card issue, a chapel briefing including juice and muffin, and a final table with give-away items provided by the Air Force and Coast Guard Recruiting stations. Leigh Anne Wilson, Military One Source program assistant, was also present. They had flown in a representative to talk with parents and give out informational materials on their services.

Once through the line, the children proceeded to the briefing room where they were greeted by the 61st Air Base Wing Commander, Col. Joseph Schwarz. Colonel Schwarz welcomed the group and set the tone for the day by discussing the remaining activities the children would experience. The children then proceeded to the parade field where field tents were set up with the following static displays: weapons, chemical warfare suits, camouflage face painting, communications equipment, sleeping quarters, MRE sampling and a real-world first aid tent. Static display vehicles were also on hand for the children. There was a humvee, a 2-1/2-ton truck with a water buffalo in tow, a security forces police car and a fire truck. The children were able to interact with all the displays and get a feel for a real deployment location.

A lunch of hot dogs, chips and drink followed the parade-field activities and then the children were all set to deploy on a humanitarian mission. A school bus provided by the County of Los Angeles transported the children to Holy Trinity Church and School in San Pedro. The children were broken into four groups and set to work. One group helped organize the uniform donations closet, another group cleaned the playground equipment for the kindergarten class, the third group helped sort through food that the church was preparing to give out for Thanksgiving and the fourth group helped to plant a flower garden.

The children re-deployed to the Fort MacArthur Community Center where they were welcomed home from deployment by family members cheering and holding signs. Once inside the Community Center, Col. Nannette Benitez, 61st Mission Support Squadron commander, welcomed the troops home and presented them with medals and certificates of participation. The welcome home celebration concluded with cake and punch.

All family members in attendance commented on what a great program this was for their children to experience and how they look forward to participating again next year.

"The KUDOS Event was SUPER!," said Mr. Charles Coleman, The Aerospace Corporation. "On behalf of the COLEMAN KIDS (Kolini, Ulualo, Peniamina, and Uialii), Malaea, my wife, and me - we want to say mahalo (thank you!) for KUDOS. The event was super and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. More importantly, the kids experienced a sense of separation even though it was a mock setup. They now have an appreciation of what the deployment process is about."