Laughlin children enjoy 2020 Junior Deployment

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anne McCready
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Children on base participated in a Junior Deployment on Nov. 7, 2020, to have fun learning more about what their parents and other Airmen do while maintaining safety guidelines to prevent any spread of COVID-19.

Parents drove the deployers from station to station where different tables were displayed and events were held. 

Volunteers monitored the children’s temperatures, ensured 100 percent mask wear, provided sanitizer, and directed traffic in a one-way direction at each of the five stations. Each table was distanced apart and hosted one family group at a time. In order to spread out attendance, there was no one start point, and families traveled from one station to the next according to a checklist so no area became too crowded.

One station featured a finance, legal office, chaplain, and personnel teams. At another, Laughlin firefighters showed off one of their engines. A third hosted a nerf marksmanship challenge and a bootcamp-style workout. One station demonstrated different jobs of the Medical group. At the final station, a welcome home team cheered them on, and Col. Craig Prather, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert L. Zachery III, 47th FTW command chief master sergeant, presented the junior deployers with coins to symbolize the compilation of their tour.

The deployers participated with enthusiasm throughout the event--especially when it came to the physical training or PT, as their parents call it. 

“I enjoyed the support of all the base and how they came out to put on a great program for the kids,” said Lt. Col. Jacob Hostetler, 96th Flying Training Squadron assistant director of operations. “They make it seem like the kids are really doing something in the military, and they get to see a little of what goes into a deployment. The best part to me is they get to see the different base facilities.”

His children’s favorite part was the PT and the goodies.

“Our goal was to create an event for military children to experience what their parents do,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer Poole, 47th Force Support Squadron readiness NCO. “Many children hear their parents got the order to deploy, but they might not understand it. Through this event, they can experience it firsthand, and it’s a bonding experience and a learning experience.”

Through the COVID-19 precautions, the event was a chance for families of Team XL to get outside and raise the spirits of Laughlin children, while physically distancing. Even in masks, the junior deployment tradition continues, just like the Laughlin mission of graduating combat-ready Airmen, leaders and pilots.