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NEWS | June 17, 2011

A&FRC hosts Operation FLAGS for base children

By Airman 1st Class Precious Yett 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

"Are you ready to deploy?" said Airman Alissa Holub, Air Force Personnel Center sustainment apprentice and volunteer for the deployment line, to an 8 year old. "Do you know where you are going?

The children looked at her with a range of expressions on their faces. Some of them responded they were going to Kuwait or Iraq or other places their parents had been. Others stated confidently that they were ready to deploy, while even more looked a little intimidated as they went down the deployment line.

Operation Families Learning about Global Support was held at the Airman and Family Readiness Center June 10. The eight-year- old program is for children and civilian adults to understand some of the things military members go through in preparation for deployment. Approximately 150 children and 15 volunteers participated in this year's operation.

The children, ages 6-12, were split into two groups and then shuttled to the A&FRC from the youth center, and then after receiving dog tags and identification cards, moved to Hangar 71 and the 359th Aerospace and Medical Squadron.

A few things the children were able to experience were the intricacies of a deployment line, a tour of the 359th AMDS, which includes the hypobaric chamber and barany chair, as well as see the 902nd Security Forces squadron military working dogs.

"They now have an understanding of what their parents or other military personnel go through," said Senior Airman Le'Aisha Rose, 359th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician.

Master Sgt. Karla Iglesias, 902nd Force Support Squadron A&FRC Readiness NCO in charge who coordinated this year's Operation FLAGS, said the mock deployment process calms the children's nerves about what their parents go through by giving them fun, concrete examples of the process they can experience.

Several adults who volunteered to help with Operation FLAGS said until they saw the actual mock deployment process the children go through, they had little to no idea what
deploying Airmen went through before leaving for overseas.

"It was an enjoyable experience," agreed Staff Sgt. Alicia Gopee, AFPC assignment non-commissioned officer in charge for weather, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, pararescue and aircrew flight equipment and volunteer for Operation FLAGS.

"I was able to work with the children of servicemembers from all over the base. The children had an opportunity to see exactly what their parents experience when they're preparing for a deployment."

The children also enjoyed the Air Force Band of the West, free food, a demonstration in combat arms and defense training, and raffle tickets redeemable for prizes at the end of the day.

"I think the kids were excited to participate in Operation FLAGS and they'll be back again next year," said Sergeant Gopee.