CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. –
More than 75 base children here had the opportunity to experience what a deployment felt like by participating in a children's deployment here Saturday.
The children's deployment, codenamed "Operation Kookaburras" gave military family members the opportunity to experience what their parents go through when preparing for a deployment in support of military operations around the world.
The children began their day by receiving a brown envelope which contained their individual travel orders, a set of shot records and a set of dog tags. After receiving their envelopes the children were escorted to a briefing room where they were welcomed by Col. Glen Joerger, 437th Airlift Wing commander.
Colonel Joerger told the children would now have more of an understanding on what their parents go through and how they contribute to the Team Charleston mission. He also said that no matter what job each of the children's parents do they were all equally important.
"It's the contribution of everyone that makes Team Charleston what it is: the best installation in Air Mobility Command," he said.
The children then received briefings from intelligence staff members on their mock deployment, and additional briefings from support agencies including finance, legal, medical and chaplain staff members.
When the briefings were completed, the children processed through the deployment line and had their orders stamped. This process is similar to what their parents would experience were it an actual deployment line.
"We're trying to show the family members exactly what it means to deploy and how the entire base plays a role in the deployment process," said Tech Sgt. Julie Brannan, 437th Mission Support Squadron family readiness NCO. "This way the children have more of an idea of what their parents do and how they contribute to the mission."
After processing through the deployment line, the children proceeded to the war and readiness section where they received demonstrations on the field equipment their parents would wear when deployed.
"Today was a really good day because my son got to see the kind of gear that I will be using when I deploy," said Master Sgt. Michael Kravalis, 437th Aerial Port Squadron NCO in charge of load planning. "I think today gave him more of an understanding of what I actually go through and the types of briefings I get when I get ready to leave for deployment."
Along with trying on field equipment, the children got a hands-on demonstration from the 437th Civil Engineer Squadron's explosive ordnance team on their robot which is used for improvised explosives device responses and for clearing vehicles.
Sergeant Kravalis's son, Michael Jr., said that seeing some of the equipment that his dad uses was "cool," but seeing EOD's robot up close and getting the chance to play with the controls was "awesome."
"This is something fun that we do for the base each year and it helps increase the children's understanding of what their moms and dads actually go through when getting ready to leave," said Maj. William Foster, 437th Mission Support Squadron commander. "That's why we have the children's deployment line -- it's the best way to explain to the children the steps required in order to send their parents on a deployment."