COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Children wore beaming smiles as they swarmed into Stryker vehicles, donned oversized helmets and blasted the horn in a Humvee on a chilly Colorado morning, Nov. 11, 2015.
Soldiers of 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participated in a flagpole ceremony and gave a tour of their Stryker vehicles to students at Pinon Valley Elementary School in observance of Veterans Day.
"Fort Carson is right across the street and we're out here to support the community and we appreciate all they do to support us," said Lt. Col. Steven Barry, commander, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "When we do an event like this where we both mutually benefit I think it's a win for everybody."
Students, parents, school faculty, veterans and Soldiers saluted the American flag together during the flagpole ceremony and playing of the national anthem.
After the ceremony the students returned inside to their classes and patiently anticipated their turn to engage with the Soldiers and explore the military vehicles.
"I'm really impressed with the way the Soldiers are relating to the kids, supporting them and answering their questions," said Ann-Keve Blackburn, 2nd grade teacher, Pinon Valley Elementary School. "Two kids have come up and said to me, 'they're really nice.' So that was a good thing; when the kids can actually feel welcome."
The Soldiers helped children talk to each other with the radio equipment inside the Strykers and play with the video game like remote weapon system controls while maintaining a safe learning environment.
"Instead of just looking at the vehicles they've been able to interact with them," said Spc. James Nishimoto, Stryker vehicle driver, Battle Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "They can go back to their parents and tell them about what they learned today."
This was the second annual Veterans Day event for the squadron and many of the local schools are sponsored by the units of 1st SBCT. School sponsorships allow Soldiers a unique opportunity to interact and provide support to the community.
"It's the gift of giving; it makes you feel good on the inside," said Nishimoto, a native of Modesto, Calif.