NEWS | Nov. 15, 2017

JB Charleston's kids 'deploy' for a day

By Airman 1st Class Allison Payne Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. – Joint Base Charleston families  participated in Operation Blue Waters, a youth deployment line Nov. 4, 2017, at the Men Riv Education and Technology Resource Center, JB Charleston’s Weapons Station, South Carolina.

In celebration of November, the Month of the Military family, eight volunteers setup a simulated deployment for 14 children to a fictitious base in Cuba.

“The event was arranged so kids could process through the line and visit base agencies our service members would typically see before deploying,” said Tech. Sgt. Eva Simmons, 628th Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in-charge.

Representatives from Military and Family Readiness, immunizations, finance and legal volunteered to help process the youngsters through the line. The chaplain was also there to brief the families and say a prayer before ‘departure.’

“I think this was an extremely positive event for the kids,” said Airman 1st Class Christa Stankovic, member of the 437th Operations Support Squadron. “The day was filled with insightful activities and lessons. Hopefully they are able to talk to their families to get an even deeper understanding of what goes on before, during and after deployments.”

After processing through the deployment line, the children tried on their gear, consisting of a helmet, vest, boots and additional uniform attire. Volunteers then opened Meals, Ready-to-Eat packages to show the kids what kind of food service members may eat during their deployments.

“As service members and parents, we don’t always think about things such as our own children experiencing what we go through,” said Simmons. “It was really fun to see them in our battle gear and how the kids reacted to their fake deployment.”

As Operation Blue Waters kicked off, the kids said goodbye to their families and travelled by bus to their destination. They also explored Coast Guard ships and visited Charlie the alligator before heading back home.

“It is definitely a lot of work to put events like this together but the outcome makes it worth it,” said Simmons. “We have been preparing this event since April. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the Youth Center, as well as the base agencies here today.”

Upon arrival home from their mission, the children were greeted by their families with big hugs and “Welcome home” signs. The families had a picnic together and watched demonstrations by 628th Security Forces Squadron and Explosive Ordnance Disposal trainers and dogs.

“The kids and volunteers were all super excited to participate in the different events and activities,” said Stankovic. “Overall it was a very educational and beneficial day for the families and volunteers.”