HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas- Fire engines, police cruisers, bulldozers, steamrollers, and Strykers, oh my!
Children, parents and adults from the Harker Heights, Killeen and Belton communities gathered behind the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Library June 6, 2018, to experience the library's annual Big Truck show.
For the second year in a row, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment participated in the show, bringing two Strykers vehicles for children and adults to explore. Brave Rifles Soldiers with Ironhawk Troop, 3rd Squadron "Thunder," allowed children to operate the cameras, try on the equipment and ask questions about the vehicles, their jobs, and the Army.
"It makes my day when I can bring a smile to a kid's face," said Spc. Darick Swadener, an infantryman with the troop. "I love volunteering. I used to be a volunteer park ranger and I was in charge of the children's activities, so today was great."
Despite the long lines and rising heat of the day, squeals of laughter along with the oohs and aahs of children, joined the sounds of blasting horns and sirens as they explored the different vehicles.
Mortarman Spc. Brandon Webster said he loved interacting with the kids and making them smile.
"I've always loved instructing people, so any questions they asked I loved to answer," Webster said. "It's just nice to be able to inform people about what we do."
Infantryman Spc. Diego Nicholas said he was happy he and his team were able to be a part of the event.
"It shows the community what we're about, what we do, who we are, and the equipment we use," Nicholas said.
"The kids had a blast. It was great having the Army come out with their vehicles," said Deon Reed, an after-school teacher with the Caring Hands Learning Center. "We have a lot of kids who have military parents, so having them here allows them to see what their parents do in the military."
For several years, the library has been hosting the big truck show and because the staff always receives positive feedback from the event, they now use the show to kick off their summer reading program instead of closing with it.
"We want to get them excited about coming to the library," said Amanda Hairston, the Harker Heights children's librarian. "Trucks are universal, so having our community helpers come out to support really makes this event a hit."
Hairston said that despite the heat, everyone was having a very good time and that having the military being a part of the event just makes sense.
"We are a community that is predominately military so we always want to have a good relationship with Fort Hood," Hairston said. "We want to bring you guys out for events whenever we can because you guys are the face of a lot of the parents, so a lot of the kids we interact with-that's what they know."
Events such as the big truck show is just one of the many ways the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen has shown its support for its partnered communities throughout the years.
"It's nice to come out here to support the community and show them that we care," Swadener said.