By Sgt. Kimberly K. Menzies, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public AffairsMay 22, 2013
FORT CAMPBELL, KY--As the day begins, little voices whisper "look at the Army people", a small tug on the sleeve and a child asks "are you here to play with me", soon cheers of excitement and shrieks of glee echo off the gymnasium wall.
Soldiers with 801st Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, visited and mentored local community children, May 17, 2013, during a field day at Byrns Darden Elementary School, Clarksville, Tn.
"It rained so we had to come up with an alternate plan for the Field Day," explained Andy Lyons, the principal of the Byrns Darden Elementary School. "We did it indoors and we had about 50-55 Soldiers here helping us run all the different events."
Though the rainy weather may have caused the school staff to relocate the events for their field day, the children were still able to participate in many various games.
"The kids did obstacle stations and a bunch of different activities," said Sgt. Seth Oldre, a Soldier with Company A, 801st BSB. "They had hoola hoop contests, egg tosses, shuttle runs, and we also had a static display of military vehicles as well."
"My game was a modified egg race," shared Pfc. Jonathan Canipe, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with Company B, 801st BSB. "They had to go back and forth, basically getting the kids active and having fun with them."
The local community may be familiar with the presence of Soldiers around Fort Campbell but interacting with the elementary children conveys the Soldiers appreciation for the support from the surrounding Hopkinsville, Oak Grove and Clarksville area.
"This helps [the children] realize we are people too," said Canipe. "They sometimes see us as public figures but this also lets them know we are still humans and not like robots."
"We want to show we are friendly, here to help and that we do more than just put on the uniform and go to work," said Oldre.
"If you are a little kid you should know that you can look up to the men and women in uniform, the men and women defending your country," added Canipe.
"This is huge," shared Lyons. "A lot of these students don't have father figures, some of them don't have moms or dads, they live with aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas."
"I am expecting a daughter in August so this definitely helps put into perspective what I can expect," said Canipe, smiling.
"Many of these students said they want to join the military when they are older so it is a huge thing to actually get to see an Army person here in our school and interacting with the children, giving them encouraging words and mentoring them," adds Lyons. "That is a really big deal to them."
"We just want to say thank you and that we appreciate [the Soldiers] being here," said Lyons. "Every time we call, you come out. Without the help of you guys, we wouldn't be able to do this many stations and would have to have break field day up into more than one day. You helped make this a huge success."