Missile defense Soldier talks with kids about deployment
July 26, 2013
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. --While he discussed what it meant for him to be a deployed Soldier, small hands filled the air and bright eyes stared at him during his speaking session at Camp Whittier July 11.
Staff Sgt. Craig Davis, a liaison officer for Detachment 1, 100th Missile Defense Brigade, California National Guard, was speaking to children attending Operation Purple Camp, which belongs to The Boys and Girls Club of America and is located in the mountains above Santa Barbara.
According to Debbie Hite, director for the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County and Camp Whittier, the purpose of this yearly endeavor is to have local children of military parents meet other kids in the same position, see military-related items, hear from a Soldier about what it is like to be deployed, and pick up coping skills on how to deal with missing their loved one.
Davis, being a Soldier who has deployed and the son of a Soldier who has deployed, wanted to help.
"I love talking with kids," said Davis. "They are always very entertaining."
Davis currently works out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., but draws from his experiences when he was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, as a military policeman with the 233rd MP Company in 2003 during the initial invasion into the country.
Davis has two young daughters who help him relate to the children that he was speaking to.
"The kids asked all kinds of questions. Pretty much typical kid questions you usually receive like, 'What kind of guns do you use,' or 'What kinds of letters do you like to receive,'" said Davis. "I just told them as much as I could."
Davis relayed one particular story that captured the attention of all in the room.
"An infantry compound we were next to had caged lions on it," said Davis. "I was surprised, and thought it was crazy. It's not every day you see one of these up close, and we definitely didn't expect to see one in a combat zone."
While he talked, he presented a slide show of photos he took while deployed to Iraq.
Davis was also able to share with the children about being a child of someone who was deployed. His father was deployed as part of a Joint Coalition Force nicknamed the Rough Riders that pulled convoy security during their 2004 yearlong deployment.
About 90 kids listened to Davis speak. They came through in three different groups throughout the day, and every group was just as inquisitive as the next.
While at the camp, there were plenty of unique opportunities for them. The children were given the chance to see a military Humvee, eat a Meal Ready to Eat, and try on military firefighting gear.
"It all went really well considering all the challenges we faced organizing it this year (with sequestration)," said Hite. "But the kids were good and they all had a great time. They got a lot of time to bond as well."