717th MI Battalion helps school kids appreciate veterans
November 13, 2012
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Volunteers from the 717th Military Intelligence Battalion went to Columbia Heights Elementary School Nov. 8 as a lead-in to Veterans Day to give children a sample of what it means to be a Soldier.
The visit served as part of the battalion's ongoing community outreach to the school, which is south of downtown San Antonio. The Soldiers, stationed at the Lackland Air Force Base Annex, strove to offer themselves as positive role models to help the children appreciate veterans.
Spc. Patrick Piche promptly volunteered.
"I love coming out here," said the young Soldier. "Just as we're the future of the Army, some of these kids are our future leaders."
The day's events opened with the battalion's honor guard posting the colors followed by Airmen of the 802nd Security Forces Squadron canine section providing a working dog demonstration.
Then third-, fourth- and fifth-graders ceased being merely spectators and rotated through stations for first aid, vehicles, communications, military food and physical training.
The physical training took the form of a relay race in which the children took turns crawling, running with a back pack, carrying a water can, sack-jumping and leap-frogging over a short course, all with prompting and supervision by the 717th MI Battalion's Soldiers.
At the communications station, kids received a quick lesson on the phonetic alphabet and an opportunity to talk on an Army radio. At the first aid station, they learned how to wrap arms and legs and prepare slings. At the vehicles station, they got to climb inside a HMMWV, and at the military food station, they got to see how Meals Ready to Eat are cooked and get a taste of it.
Maj. Scott Linker, the battalion's operations and training officer, credited Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Hudson with organizing the event.
"This community outreach is very rewarding for both the Soldiers and the children," said Linker. "We want the children to appreciate the meaning of Veterans Day and what veterans mean to their community."
Cadets in the Harlandale High School Junior ROTC assisted with the day's activities. Their instructor, retired Staff Sgt. Augustine Rodriguez, said a military career would allow children in unhappy circumstances a means of escape.
"These demonstrations offer the children a snapshot of some things they might be doing [in the military]," said Rodriguez. "If we can instill in them the Army values, they will go far in life."
Fifth grade science teacher Gail Gordon said the children were "enjoying it and learning a lot." Several of her students readily voiced agreement.
"It's fantastic they do all these projects," said Illiana.
Ricardo succinctly summed up his opinion of the Soldiers: "They're cool."