LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The 2018 Junior Deployment brought together volunteers, leaders, parents and community members to make the opportunity possible for military children and children from the community to learn about Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ mission on Nov. 3, 2018.
November is the month of the military family, and Master Sgt. Crystal Beckham, 47th Force Support Squadron readiness NCO and 2018 Junior Deployment coordinator, says the base saw the junior deployment as a beneficial way to bring military and community members together.
The junior deployers were able to try out the fire department’s gear, conduct a pre-flight check on a T-1A Jayhawk, see air traffic controllers at work in the tower, and watch a military working dog unit perform.
“The Junior Deployment provides military kids insight to what their parents do on a daily basis, and what the military parent may experience as they’re preparing to deploy,” Beckham said. “The children were able to see some of the gear we use on a daily basis, and they got to see some of the jobs at Laughlin.”
Even though Laughlin is an Air Education and Training Command base, deployment is still a large priority for Airmen here. Beckham believes the more a family understands about deployment, the more they are able to support their Airman.
“When I brief deployers, I always include talking about their families,” Beckham said. “It’s not just the member who deploys—it’s the whole family. If a family understands what the member is going through, the deployer may worry about them less and focus on the mission more.”
Beckham added that knowing more about the U.S. Air Force lifestyle can go as far as helping teachers and friends gain a deeper understand the fundamentals behind supporting the military families they interact with.
“Twenty-nine children from the San Felipe-Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District were able to attend the junior deployment,” Beckham said. “Participating in an event on base like this gives them the same insight into what goes on in the military as it does for some dependents who may not know much about Laughlin.”
Master Sgt. Madeleine Santos, 47th Force Support Squadron military personnel flight superintendent, attended the junior deployment with her children.
“My kids had a blast,” Santos said. “They enjoyed meeting new people and new kids. They really enjoyed all the interactive learning and hands-on experiences demonstrated by the various agencies on base.”
For Santos, events like this reduce a child's stress as well as provide community members with personal insight on the deployment process.
“I also think it's important to share this event with the local children so as to satisfy their curiosity when they wonder what we do here on Laughlin and maybe spark an interest [in the Air Force] for their own future,” Santos said.
For one day, the base gave military and local youth a chance to lace up their survival boots for a day. Together, firefighters, pilots, security forces and volunteers from across the base showed the junior deployers the essence of what it means to be Team XL—a base that trains multi-domain combat aviators and deploys mission-ready warriors.
After a long morning of exploring the base and seeing all the diverse ways Airmen come together to accomplish the mission, the deployers boarded their respective rides home to continue their own mission—the mission of growing up.