Deployed Soldiers 'see' their children at school using VTC
January 5, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - There are many ways for troops to talk with Family members while deployed-Internet, telephones, Family Readiness Groups and more.
But using a less-common communication method, Soldiers assigned to the 4th Advise and Assist, "Long Knife," Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, surprised their children via video teleconference between Contingency Operating Site Marez, Iraq and Meadows Elementary School at Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 14.
Meadows Elementary faculty, leaders of 4th AAB Rear Detachment, and Maj. Ernesto Lopez, Information Operations officer, 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div., planned and coordinated the special event connecting deployed Soldiers with their children from more than 7,000 miles apart.
"The focus of this VTC is to afford the Soldiers a chance to talk with their children in a different scene then just their rooms (via internet). It allowed the kids to see their parents in a work environment," said Lopez, who hails from Bakersfield, Calif.
Soldiers, who deployed to northern Iraq in September as part of U.S. Division-North, took a seat before a television and camera system located in the conference room at 4th AAB headquarters, talking with their children about school, Family and life deployed to Iraq.
"I was hoping to surprise my little girl (Ayana) at school, but I was shocked to see my whole Family was there, too," said Spc. Andres Montero, who hails from Atlantic City, N.J., and is a petreoleum supply specialist who serves as a training room noncommissioned officer for Company A, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div.
Surprised to see their mom or dad on the television in the middle of a school day, some of the children giggled; others, shocked and amazed, cried.
"It was a little hard for my daughter at first. She was a little emotional, but once she realized I was there, we talked and had a good time," said Sgt. Tammy Ellis, a combat medic from Bangor, Maine, assigned to Company C, 27th BSB 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div., U.S. Division-North.
The Long Knife Soldiers said they were happy to have this opportunity to see and talk with their children during a time that is out of the ordinary routine for a deployed Soldier.
"It was good that I was able to see my son while he was in school, which is something I don\'t get to do while I'm deployed," said Master Sgt. Phillip Murphy, senior supply sergeant, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div., U.S. Division-North.
"I didn't get to talk to my son often last deployment, so this was definitely a morale booster," said Murphy.
(Staff Sgt. Renee Wilson writes for 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division-North)