Army Child of Year develops 'deployment kit'
April 4, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (Army News Service, April 4, 2011) -- Kyle Hoeye, the 16-year-old middle child of Arizona National Guard Sgt. 1st Class James and Michaelena Hoey, was selected as this year's Army Child of the Year.
More than 1,400 children competed in the military Child of the Year program run by Operation Homefront. A deciding factor in Kyle's selection was his development of a "deployment kit" -- treats, photos and items of personal interest sent to deployed Soldiers with the help of their families -- a project Kyle spearheaded through Marana High School's Key Club.
The Hoeyes live in Marana, Ariz., a growing town on the outskirts of Tucson. Both James and Michaelena work at the Western Area Aviation Training Site, one of the National Guard's primary aviation facilities. James is an aviation mechanic. Michaelena is a civilian working with Family Programs. Kyle is a junior at Marana High School.
Kyle had moved six times before he was 12 years old, owing to his father's active-duty military obligations. As James transitioned from regular Army to National Guard, and the family became immersed in a more civilian lifestyle, it was evident that the military lifestyle had left its imprint on young Kyle.
"There is a definite difference between a military child living on an active-duty base and a civilian child in a non-military setting," said Kyle.
Kyle identifies several other attributes influenced by his father's military career. These include the display of manners and respect, self-reliance, and self-motivation. He remembers being about 10 or 11 years old when he realized that he was taking the initiative and the lead in situations normally avoided by his peers.
Kyle's father, James, said "that kind of confidence comes from having to do things as a military kid. In Kyle's case, he has no fear of failure."
"Military kids tend to figure things out on their own because of the void created when a parent deploys," said James.
SENSE OF DUTY
It was Michaelena, Kyle's mother, who nominated Kyle.
"As a military family, our sense of service and duty is considered part of who and what we are. It is about giving back to one's community," said Michealena.
Richard Pines teaches courses in law and public safety as part of the Business and Human Services Academy, one of the academic tracks at Marana High School. Pines was also Kyle's freshman baseball coach, and has come to know the Hoeyes well.
In an effort to benefit the program, Kyle, with James' help, designed and constructed a mock electric chair. The chair, while safe, did present the ominous image of the real thing and as such was a huge hit with those students who were deciding which academic track to pursue.
Even though Kyle is enrolled in the Science and Technology Academy, he sensed the need of Pines' course and made his creative contribution.
"My family and I like to do things together," said Kyle.
Pines said "the teamwork concept doesn't surprise me. The good attitude comes from family."
James Doty, principal of Marana High School, said Kyle's contribution of the electric chair was "incredible" in that it added so much more to the course and to the recruiting efforts of that academy.
Doty is unabashedly proud of Kyle and his accomplishments.
"His service to others, beyond Key Club, his service to our military families, his sense of helping others and his overall volunteerism is in themselves important to the sense of service. Kyle personifies service," said Doty.
PRIDE AND HUMILITY
Initially, Kyle says he didn't understand the significance of his selection as Army Child of the Year.
"It took a bit of time to set in, and when it did, it was both overwhelming and humbling at the same time," said Kyle.
Kyle's Marana High classmates are proud of their contemporary. A freshman said Kyle's achievement was "really cool" and he was a role model for her. A senior said "Kyle's accomplishment is pretty incredible, and he deserves it."
Perhaps the most telling comment came from a young freshman who said, "if he could do something so cool and awesome, then so could we."
Kyle takes it all in stride, smiling as he goes from class to class while exchanging greetings with almost everyone along the way. His celebrity is genuine, yet clearly modest.
Another student said "Kyle gives us all a sense of renewed faith about kids, and what we are capable of doing for the greater good."