Safety brief with a twist
June 22, 2012
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Those who have been in the Army for longer than a few months have attended a unit's mandatory safety briefings. Normally the unit's commander will remind the Soldiers of the dangers of alcohol, drugs, and other safety tips related to the unit's particular area of operations.
Recently, Soldiers from the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, saw a small stage in front of them with audio equipment about where the Battalion Commander usually stands.
"I had absolutely no idea. I kept asking everyone, 'Who's the special guest?' said Master Sgt. Mattie Smith-Clayton, plans noncommissioned officer for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command's Support Operations.
After Lt. Col. Matthew Goodman, commander of the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, made his safety announcements, he introduced 10-year-old, Diego Nikitas.
"We do partnerships with [Webling Elementary School] all the time so I thought that he might have won an award or something, but I had no idea that he was going to do that," Smith-Clayton said, still impressed by the show.
Diego was not there to receive an award, he was the day's entertainment. He had written a rap about the U.S. Army and wanted to share it with the same unit that comes to his school, Webling Elementary School, on a weekly basis to exercise and play.
"This is something I really like to do," said Diego. "I wanted to write something for the Army because they help us out a lot at school. I wanted to do something nice for them."
Diego and his father have been writing raps for the past few years, his father, Staff Sgt. David Nikitas, Pacific Theater Network Operations and Security Center, said. They normally write about things Diego is involved with such as his school, friends, and sports he plays, but really wanted to give something back.
"He wrote this rap for the military appreciation dinner that his school held just weeks prior," said David.
After the Soldiers attending the dinner heard his rap, they made it a point to get Diego down to Fort Shafter to perform for their unit.
"He was outstanding and he even had me be-bopping along," said Smith-Clayton. "He just graduated the fourth grade and he is on his summer break. He could be doing anything with his free time, but he sat down and wrote a rap about us, the U.S. Army. A lot of us have kids around that age, so to see someone as positive as that, it's always a treat for everybody."
Smith-Clayton was one of many bodies in the crowd that was smiling and dancing along, including Diego's father. When asked if he was impressed and proud of his son's performance, without hesitation, he exclaimed, "Absolutely!"
"Diego does many things that I am proud of and this is just added to the list."