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Operation Hero 2018: Here to Serve

By Airman 1st Class Lillian Miller 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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The 2nd Force Support Squadron kicked off another year of Operation Hero Sept. 30, 2018 at the Senior Airman Bryan Bell Fitness Center.

Barksdale Airmen simulated a mock deployment for military children to help them understand the deployment process.

“One or more of their parents will deploy at one point of their childhood,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer Ellison, 2nd FSS readiness NCO in charge. “They don’t always understand what a deployment is or what their parents go through.”

Before deploying, military members must go through an out-processing checklist which includes finance, the chapel and other organizations. The children see firsthand what the deployment process is like. The experience included:

·         Equipment demonstrations from the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team

·         Mission-oriented protective posture gear from the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight.

·         A fire truck static display from the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire department.

·         A shooting range with special toy weapons from the 2nd Security Forces Squadron.

“We added in meals ready to eat because while deployed we have to eat MREs,” Ellison said. “It’s a way to give them a taste of the deployed life. It’s about showing all the kids what their parents do when they deploy.”

The event had 87 children participate this year. Over 100 Barksdale personnel volunteered to man the stations.

“I volunteered for this because I think it’s important for the kids to understand what their parents go through,” said Airman 1st Class Rhiannon Woods, 2nd Medical Support Squadron public health deployment technician and Operation Hero volunteer. “If they have a better understanding of a deployment, they get a better understanding of their parents as well.”

The A&FRC reached out to various units on base who are normally involved in the deployment process. Volunteers painted faces, managed static displays and educated the children about how deployments work.

“This is my son’s fourth duty station,’” said Sarah Chen, Barksdale spouse and parent. “He has been around military personnel his whole life and this is the first time he has seen these other sections such as EOD, the fire department and emergency management. It’s incredible for the kids to get a hands on experience. It’s a huge base-wide preview of just so much excellence.”