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Young thunderbolts learn about deployments at Luke Air Force Base

Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, 56th Fighter Wing commander, gives opening remarks during the Operation Kids event Oct. 15 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The Operations Kids event was held to educate young thunderbolts on the deployment process.

The 56th Force Support Squadron’s staff held its biannual mock deployment event at the Ability to Survive and Operate area Oct. 15 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

The event, code-named Operation Kids, was held to show children of military members the duty and life of an Airman who is deployed.

“These types of events are important because it gives children of military members the chance to see what mom and dad go through when they are deployed,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Drew, 56th FSS NCO in charge of readiness. “We wanted them to fully experience a deployed environment while having fun.”

The young participants started the event by going through a deployment line. Next, the young participants were given simulated medical shots, equipment for the field, and were assigned to one of four deployment teams.

James Yang Hellewell, 56th Medical Operation Squadron family advocacy outreach manager, hands out stress balls Oct. 15 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Hellewell was part of a mock deployment line during Operation Kids.

“As a mother, I thought it was a neat simulation,” said Senaida Larson, 56th FSS work-life specialist. “My daughter had a really good time, and I wish more families would have participated in it.”

After being assigned to teams, young thunderbolts were transported to the ATSO training area on the north side of Luke.

During this phase of the event, the children participated in a variety of obstacles, activities and hands-on training with field equipment from the 56th Civil Engineering Squadron explosive ordnance disposal team, 56th Security Forces Squadron, 56th Medical Group, and other volunteering agencies.

Operation Kids participants receive a hero’s welcome home upon returning from a simulated deployment Oct. 15 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. More than 120 children attended the event.

“Multiple squadrons came together to educate kids and parents with activities,” Drew said. “Dependents were shown different events to help them understand when a parent says they have to go away for a certain amount of months, they can associate with this event and kind of know what they are talking about.”

At the conclusion of the mock deployment, the young deployers ate a meal together and were loaded onto the buses to return home. Upon arrival the children were given a hero’s welcome home.

“I think it’s essential for children to recognize what their parents do and to feel it is important on a larger scale, as well as celebrating the families that stay behind and support their loved ones,” Drew said. “It’s a team effort, and we couldn’t do what we do without the strength of our families behind us. Anytime you get families educated about the process of deployment is a win in our book.”

Airman 1st Class Tahir Finley, 56th Civil Engineering Squadron explosive ordnance disposal team member and Staff Sgt. James Dobrynski, 56th CES EOD team member, display a bomb suit to participants of the Operation Kids event Oct. 15 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Children participated in a variety of obstacles, activities and hands-on training.


Senior Airman Tyneal Remington, 56th Medical Operation Squadron medical technician, wraps a simulated trauma bandage on an Operation Kids participant Oct. 15 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Remington showed the kids the medical aspect of a deployment during the event.


Staff Sgt. James McCoy, 56th Maintenance Group weapons system coordinator, and Staff Sgt. Jessica Booth, 56th MXG weapons system coordinator, brief one of the four deployment teams during the Operation Kids event Oct. 15, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. After being assigned to teams, participants were transported to the ATSO area for training.


Source: Young thunderbolts learn about deployments at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona