Kids get feel for parents’ deploymentMore than 100 new recruits deployed Saturday from Grand Forks Air Force Base on a special mission.
By: Robb Jeffries, Forum Communications , The Jamestown Sun
More than 100 new recruits deployed Saturday from Grand Forks Air Force Base on a special mission.
Their enemy? Bullying.
The children, ages 3 to 16, were participants in the base’s Family Deployment Line. The event allowed them to experience a version of what their parents go through before deploying across the world, and, like their parents, they were given missions.
This year’s mission is to oppose bullying; last year’s mission was to oppose illegal drugs.
“We want to help the kids understand what their parents might be going through when they deploy,” volunteer Sue Grollimund said. “We try to bridge that gap, because kids only see their mom or dad leave and then come back in four to six months.”
Around 150 volunteers helped set up and run the event, she said.
According to Master Sgt. Jesse Maki, the event’s coordinator, this is the second year in a row that the base has held the event, after a multi-year hiatus. Last year’s Family Deployment Line was a hit, and he hopes the event can become an annual undertaking.
“It gives families and military children the chance to see how (deployment) works,” Maki said. “It takes the mystery out of it.”
At registration, children received dog tags and a passport, and were assigned to a color-coordinated “chalk,” or group. They passed through physical testing, where base pediatricians checked their eyesight and reflexes.
The children also got current on their immunizations, with volunteers squirting Jell-O through syringes into children’s mouths, and passing out candy medications.
One run through an inflatable obstacle course made sure all the recruits were in peak physical condition.
After their physical test, each chalk received its mission in a video by base commander Col. Timothy Bush. Bush emphasized the need to stand up against bullying, and that staying silent only helped contribute to bullying.
Snacks and plenty of weapons and equipment were on display for the visitors to enjoy, and everyone received a medal and a hero’s welcome after returning from their deployment.
Jordan Payne, 8, enjoyed all the attractions.
“My favorite part was the face painting,” he said, his face covered in black, brown and green camouflage paint.
Jordan was there with his sister Brianna, 12, and parents Master Sgt. John Payne and Jessica Payne.
“We’ve been through two deployments,” Jessica Payne said, “so it is nice to let the kids see a little bit of what goes on when their dad leaves.”
On the Web: To see video from Family Deployment Line, go to www.GrandForksHerald.com.