By Pfc. Brea CorleyApril 29, 2016
FORT SILL, Okla., April 29, 2016 -- Sounds of laughter and happy chatter were heard all around the field as hundreds of Soldiers and their families came together to take part in 75th Field Artillery Brigade's Month of The Military Child Celebration and Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.
The celebration took place at Rowe Field on April 22, with large white tents providing shade and a place to rest for the gathering. The free event began around 3 p.m., at the beginning of the Diamond Brigade's weekly family time.
Lt. Col. Cornelius Morgan, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery commander, said that the idea of the celebration was generated from the 75th Field Artillery Brigade commander, Col. Nathan Cook's intent to recognize military children.
"Kids are an extension of everything we do every day," Morgan said. "They're the most important elements of our families.
"The event, along with its timing, was intentional and well thought out. It pulls the service members away from the office and allows them to spend time with their families," said Morgan.
That's exactly what happened April 22. The event was bustling with families and Soldiers. Many of the children enjoyed jumping around in the bounce houses that were set up on the field.
For 12-year-old Haylie Grimes, daughter of Capt. Jeffrey Grimes, one of the high points of the day was the tug-of-war inflatable, which was her favorite.
"It was fun," she said. "I liked the competitiveness."
Additionally, there were multiple booths and games set up. Children lined up to run through the obstacle course that required them to navigate a variety of military style obstacles. A sound system played pop music that could be heard throughout the field. In the center of everything, food tents were set up. There, volunteers served hamburgers, hotdogs, ice cream and refreshments to families and Soldiers.
At the opposite end of the field between buildings sat two desert tan military vehicles. In both the Humvees, service members sat within and helped kids crawl up inside and out through the turret. Wearing safety equipment, the children pretended to shoot weapons like the M240B machine gun and the M249 light machine gun from atop the vehicles in a safe and supervised manner. A third station was located next to one of the trucks where a M4 rifle was mounted on a table, and children took turns handling the weapon. The fact the children shot blank rounds, didn't take away from their excitement.
Military spouse and mother of five boys between the ages of 1 and 13, Abbi Bruner, said her children loved shooting the weapons.
"I think having the guns out is really making the day for them," said Bruner, the wife of Capt. Joshua Bruner.
Bruner said events that honor military children and their sacrifices are significant.
"They go through tough times during deployments," she said. "I think it's important for them to feel involved and noticed."
Spc. Nicholas Livoti, 258th Network Support Company, volunteered to supervise the children firing weapons, said she enjoyed helping the children just as much as they enjoyed shooting weapons.
"It's been fantastic," said Livoti. "It's great to work with the kids and show them what we do."
Livoti said events like this raise the moral of the unit significantly because they afford the opportunity for everyone to come together as one. Livoti and his fellow volunteers assisted children and spouses in safely firing the weapons.
The celebration paused around 5 p.m. when everyone on the field gathered near the baseball backstop where Cook stood and recognized military spouses and volunteers for their sacrifices and commitment to the unit. Cook and Command Sgt. Maj. James Ackerman shook the hands of those being recognized, and the brigade commander's wife hugged many of them. After the recognition ceremony the event carried on into the evening.
"Events like these remind people that the Army is more than just work," Morgan said.