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NEWS | Aug. 6, 2007

Lackland youth enlisting for Operation JET

By Staff Sgt. Vincent Borden 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office

Last summer, Operation JET recruited Lackland youths willing to "deploy" to Camp Independence, a mock deployment base on KellyUSA, in order to learn and share the experiences of their military parents.

This year the Airmen Family and Readiness Flight at Lackland AFB, combined with the assistance of the Services Division, once again is offering "enlistments" to recruit more young deployers to participate in Operation JET on Aug. 10.

The efforts of last year's operation were a huge success, which ultimately recruited 206 participants. Operation JET, or Junior Expeditionary Team, aims to educate young military family members ages 9 and older on some of the nuisances of the deployment process. For the youths, that process begins at the recruiting center, where participants will have their own personal identification cards made and uniform T-shirts issued before receiving their orders to deploy.

Once that order is given, the young expeditionary Airmen will receive a mission brief at the Lackland Youth Center before embarking on their deployment experience, which includes an up-close-and-personal look at different jobs in the military and aircraft displays.

"Security forces weapons, dogs and vehicles (will be present), as well as the 59th Medical Readiness Field Hospital, pararescue and civil engineer readiness," said Tech. Sgt. Dan Krautheim, 37th Mission Support Squadron family readiness NCO. "We'll also have a C-130, F-16 and helicopters on display, all provided by the 318th Training Squadron and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy."

The event will end with a welcome home party at the Youth Center, celebrating the return of the young Airmen.

"I think it is a great way for kids to learn more about the military in an interactive and fun atmosphere," said Jodie Edwards, spouse of Lt. Col. Daniel Edwards, 319th Training Squadron commander, and mother of Luke Edwards, who participated in last year's operation. "The volunteers really took the time to explain the various aspects of a deployment. They had a genuine interest in making it a great day for everyone."

Her son agreed.

"I liked the part where we got to go in a couple of the planes," said Luke Edwards. "We got to put on some of the gear, and it was pretty cool! Other kids should definitely do it!"

Sign up for Operation JET is limited to the first 100 young deployers. Adults are welcome to attend with their children; also, open toe shoes and sandals are not recommended for wear, since participants will be boarding vehicles and aircraft.

For more information, call Sergeant Krautheim at 671-3722.