By Mr. Michael M Novogradac (Hood)January 24, 2017
FLORENCE, Texas -- Five Army Soldiers made a difference in how students at Florence Elementary School here hoist the American flag in the morning and lower it at day's end.
As part of Fort Hood, Texas' "Adopt-A-School" program, the U.S. Army Operational Test Command (OTC) provided flag etiquette training to fourth- and fifth-graders.
"The Soldiers did an absolute fantastic job talking about the responsibility of Soldiers, the meaning behind the flag, and why we honor the flag," said Kay Bradford, school principal.
"Our kiddos were listening intently. They all don't know flag etiquette," she continued. "I know they will remember how to do that because they were listening and they just fell on every single word those Soldiers were saying, out of respect."
Bradford said she used two students to handle flag duties, but after the training, she decided to have four.
"They were not folding the flag properly, but they were doing their very best understanding of how to do that, so I know that's going to be a huge change," she said.
"The students were managing, but -- you know what? To do the due honor that it deserves? We're ready for it now. It's a wonderful partnership to have with these Soldiers."
One volunteer Soldier talked about his crack at volunteering, and the upshot that came with.
"I was told last week, 'Hey be sure you're clear Friday because we got to go over to the school and show these kids the flag,'" said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Neal, a research development test and evaluation non-commissioned with OTC's Maneuver Test Directorate.
"Sometimes, you get tasked. You don't get asked. You get tasked." he said with a laugh. "That's what we say in the Army. And, you know what? I know every one of us would come back next week if they let us.
"I didn't know it would be near as fun as it was."
Neal said the experience also gave him reason to talk to others about volunteering.
"Everybody's got the same 24 hours in their day," he said. "It just depends on how you want to spend it. Do you want to spend it on yourself, or do you want to spend it on someone else?
"If you wait around to get tasked, you may never get an opportunity," he said. "If you look around and you ask, then you probably have the opportunity. I'd bet there's not a grade school or community organization that wouldn't take a volunteer to come down and speak to the young folks. Without a doubt."
As the Army's only independent operational tester, OTC tests and assesses Army, joint, and multi-service war fighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer -- the American Soldier.