Buckley kids complete deployment
By John Spann, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 22, 2011
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Midst parents holding "Welcome Home" signs and cheering, 60 kids with the Buckley Youth programs returned home from Bucklistan on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011.
They had just returned from spending the day learning what it's like to deploy.
Termed Operation Future Forces, the event ran from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for base youth ages 8-18 and gave them the opportunity to participate in a mock military deployment.
Kicking off the event, Col. Dan Dant, 460th Space Wing commander talked to the young deployers before they left. "I've done seven deployments so I've lived through this quite a bit. I've always had fun on my deployments but as a parent I always worried about my kids," he said.
"When your parents deploy, you all are on their minds. You can be worried, frustrated, get mad when they aren't around for special events. But I want you to know they are worried about what you are doing too.
"Today, you get to have the fun. Mom and Dad get to stay home and worry about you. So learn what it's like to deploy. Pay attention to your leaders so you stay safe," said Dant.
For 11-year-old Nathanial, he got to kick off the events by volunteering to get his hair cut down to the scalp with a buzz cut. For his effort, Chief MSgt. Robert Ellis, 460th Space Wing Command Chief, presented him with his coin.
Participants then in-processed, attended basic training, were issued their military gear, participated in five challenges, learned basic drill and ceremonies and then deployed to Camp Rattlesnake or "Bucklistan "near Lake Williams. There the children learned some basic technical skills geared towards the military job they were given--security, mission support, communications, medical and public affairs.
After lunch they divided into five, 11-13 person teams to participate in a humanitarian mission consisting of providing basic food, water and medical supplies to the City of Bucklistan. Along the way on their mission, each team encountered situations where they put into practice some of the skills they learned earlier in the day.
Security had to provide protection for the team as they traveled. The medics provided medical support to some injured civilians, the mission support team had to erect a barrier for the teams protection as enemy forces launched water balloons at them and the communications specialist had to report back the details of their mission to home base. Each team's mission ended when they successfully delivered the supplies to the villagers, negotiated a simulated mine field, fired Nerf rifles and then rendered medical support to the leader.
For Tech. Sgt. Adam Ferguson, 460th Space Wing Safety and leader of one of the teams, it was an exciting day. "I think it went better than expected," he said. "The older kids took the younger kids under their wings and really made the day a success. Each kid took to their job and really contributed to the success of the mission."
Participation priority was given to those children who've had a parent deploy, had a parent deploy in the last six months or who will have a parent deploy in the next six months. The Youth Center had to turn away kids who wished to participate.
"This takes a lot of resources," said Tom Cox, Youth Center director. "This was our third year to hold a mock deployment for our kids and this was the best one yet."