Whiteman children receive operational spirit

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The sun was barely above the horizon, morning dew still clung to grass, and a room filled with more than 100 faces waited in anticipation to 'deploy.'

Children from the Whiteman community attended Operation Spirit April 16 at the deployment center here to experience first-hand what their parents encounter through deployments.

Geared toward children, the program brings the deployment experience to a level they can understand. "The goal of Operation Spirit is to educate military children on the deployment process, alleviate fears that a child might have, and most importantly ... to have fun while learning about their parent's experiences," said Sandi Williams, Operation Spirit organizer.

The day started with a mission brief from Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, 509th Bomb Wing commander, who answered questions and wished the children luck on their 'deployment.' Mission, intelligence and weather briefings educated the children about some of the things their parents deal with on deployments.

"They had the opportunity to ask questions and get real answers," Mrs. Williams said. "This was their day and it gave the children a chance to share something special with their parent, something they hear talked about, but now they can discuss it with a better understanding of the process."

Their journey continued with out-processing through a deployment line, which included simulated vaccinations, orders and equipment (a bag of goodies, in this case.)

Following the out-processing, chalks of children were bused to the flightline to see the B-2 Spirit, AH-64 Apache, A-10 Warthog, C-130 Hercules and T-38 Talon.

"We got to go on a carrier plane and see the B-2," said Tanner Tipton, son of Tech. Sgt. Nikole Tipton, 509th Force Support Squadron. "It was awesome!"

A bus ride back to the deployment center ended their deployment. The children were led to a room with equipment from a variety of base units on display.

Tech. Sgt. Thomas McGrew, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron, said this was his fourth year attending with his children and he was pleased at the turn-out.

"At each station we can tell our children our story and how each station relates to our personal deployed experiences," Sergeant McGrew said. "Operation Spirit also shows the children a lot of equipment that we deal with as military members."