By Spc. Paige Behringer, 1st BCT Public Affairs, 1st Cav. Div. May 2, 2014
BELTON, Texas -- Six Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion"Lancer," 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team "Ironhorse," 1st Cavalry Division took one Army value, selfless service, to a new level while conducting a mission in a special area of operations.
Two combat medics, a mechanic, a sniper, a tanker and a cavalry scout made the 25-minute journey from Fort Hood to Joe M. Pirtle Elementary School in Belton, Texas, to showcase their skills in support of their adopted school's career day.
Pirtle students rotated through classrooms learning about different careers. In two of those classrooms, Soldiers demonstrated their military occupational specialties and equipment.
Volunteers shot their hands in the air when combat medics, Sgt. Joshua Chebret and Sgt. Rebecca Martinez, both assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Lancer Battalion, explained the basics of first aid. Pirtle students laughed as they learned about different bandages, splinting techniques and improvised tourniquets.
Staff Sgt. Nith Keo, a Lancer cavalry scout, showed students the gear Soldiers wear while deployed. Teachers selected students to try on body armor, an Army combat helmet and a ruck sack.
A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Keo, who serves as the Lancer Adopt-a-School liaison, coordinated the visit. He said the program helps foster community relations between local schools and the Fort Hood community.
"For us to serve in the community is just as important when we're deployed in another country," Keo explained. "If we're able to support another country we also need to make it just as important to be back here to serve our community, especially our school system."
Once a month, Keo speaks with school counselors from Pirtle and the Lancer's second adopted school, Leon Heights Elementary School.
Whether it's an email, phone call, breakfast with students, lunch with administrators, or helping support an event like career day, Keo stays involved with the program.
Keo said he feels a sense of pride to be involved with the schools as a Soldier but also as a dad. A father of two boys, Keo said he's a kid at heart, so the AAS program is near and dear to his heart.
The Lancers have participated in fundraising events like the fall festival when Pirtle needs volunteers to help set up or supervise.
Christy Sharum, the school counselor at Pirtle, said the school loves having Soldiers come to visit or volunteer.
"We have a lot of children whose family members are in the military, and just having their presence here gives our children a (sense of) appreciation," said Sharum, a native of Salado, Texas. "They're very proud of our country and proud of our Soldiers."
Sharum said her favorite part of the AAS program is when Soldiers are able to come interact with children whose parents or relatives are deployed.
"It's like there's a little hole left in the (kids)," Sharum said. "It satisfies them to be able to connect with another person that maybe does mommy or daddy's kind of work. Maybe their mommy or daddy is gone, but they get to connect with this other Soldier that is here."
The Army's presence at career day helps the children see Soldiers in a different light, Sharum said.
"Soldiers are fun-loving, smart, kind people that do more than just go to combat for our country," Sharum said. "I think it helps inform (the kids) about all the different kinds of jobs that you can do … in the Army. It's not just one set thing."
Along with Soldiers from the Lancer Battalion, Pirtle hosted a surgical technician, accountant, engineer, attorney, pastor and other representatives from various professions during career day.
Keo said it's great for the Fort Hood community to be involved with the kids' education system.
"They know we serve." Keo said. "They know we deploy. We're also here to serve you in this way."