Hohenfels students explore 'the box'
May 3, 2010
HOHENFELS, Germany - Though thousands of soldiers from numerous countries come to the training area at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, the box, each year, many family members of the Soldiers and civilians stationed at Hohenfels rarely get the chance to see where their loved one spends a significant amount of their time.
On Job Shadow Day however, children from 1st to 12th grade got the chance to explore life in the training area, to see first-hand where their mother or father has been when they come home and talk about their day in the box.
Joint Multinational Readiness Center and U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels personnel organized the annual event, held April 6, to introduce children to new fields of study and help them understand what their parents do every day, said Kristin Jacobs-Schmid, garrison school liaison officer.
"The goal is to broaden their horizons, provide them with hands on experience and help develop future interests," said Jacobs-Schmid.
Parents throughout post were invited to bring their children to work. In addition to numerous activities organized by individual units across post, children and their parents were shuttled by bus to Ubungsdorf, one of the mock-villages in the box used to replicate life in an Afghan or Iraqi village.
The site of many mission rehearsal exercises for deploying units, on Job Shadow Day the village became the day's star event featuring demonstrations and displays showcasing many aspects of military life.
John Callihan, an Army Reserve chaplain and civilian working at Hohenfels who served 19 years in the Kentucky National Guard and deployed to Iraq in 2005, said the event finally allowed his daughters to see what he has devoted much of his life to.
"There is a lot of the military life they haven't experienced. This is a good chance for them to see what I did during those weekends and what I support as an engineer here," said Callihan.
"It was a lot of fun for the kids, going into the towns and buildings and showing them what the lifestyle is like here compared with downrange," said Spc. Enrique Avalos, Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment.
Avalos said he approached the event as a learning opportunity for his children, using the mock-village as a basis for explaining what a deployment is like.
"I got to spend time with the kids and show them our side of the picture--they usually only see either the news or the glamorized movie version; I want them to know the reality," said Avalos. "It was a very positive learning experience. When we were on the (shooting) range I explained the dangers and how important it is to make sure you are following instructions to the letter and that you should always do the right thing even when no one is looking, not just when you know someone is watching."
Staff Sgt. Ramon Ortiz, also with Co. C, 1st-4th Inf. Reg., said the event helped him show his children what he does when he is away from them.
"Now they know where we go when we say we're going into the box for two weeks," said Ortiz.
Ortiz's son, third-grader Luis Ortiz, seemed to be in awe of his dad's job and said he appreciated the opportunity to explore the training area.
"There are a lot of things to know about the box. There's a lot he does to train Soldiers going downrange," said Ortiz. "He already knows what it looks like but it's a discovery for us."