DARIEN, Ill. -Children crawled through a Humvee, trying on combat helmets and beeped the horn while pretending to drive. Parents took photos and asked questions about the truck.
Soldiers from the 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) provided the Humvee for children and family members to play during the Touch a Truck community event hosted by the Village of Willowbrook, Parks and Recreation Department, July 11.
"In Illinois, there aren't a lot of Army bases around and some children grow up and never get to see an Army truck," said Spc. Shelby Billing, a Soldier with the 416th TEC living in St. Charles, Illinois.
During the Touch a Truck event there were vehicles from various service specialties. Besides the Humvee, there was a fire truck, police truck, ambulance and a de-icing truck used at O'Hare Airport during the winter months. At one point, children ran and laughed under a jet spray of water from the de-icing truck.
Touch a Truck has been going on for seven years, and this is the second year in a row the 416th TEC has participated. An estimated 300 children interacted with the vehicles throughout the day.
"It lets people know that we're people and that we care about the community," said Sgt Eric Urbanski living in Skokie, Illinois.
The 416th TEC is headquartered in Darien, Illinois, just ten minutes away from where Touch a Truck took place. Roughly 250 Army Reserve Soldiers train in Darien each month. Plus there are roughly 4,000 Reserve Soldiers in the Greater Chicago Area. Community interaction is one of the Army Reserve's top priorities.
Billing let children wear her patrol cap and joked with them while sharing stories. Urbanski helped children in and out of the truck, explaining things while they touched the gear.
The 416th TEC has provided Humvees for community events before, from parades to public displays. However, this was a rare moment where Soldiers provided an Army experience specifically designed for children in the community.