By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneApril 30, 2010
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- "Can you believe this thing can fly' I'm just amazed it can get off the ground!"
It was hard to tell who was more excited about the Chinook helicopter displayed Thursday on the Bring Your Child to Work Day field - Rob Fratangelo, who works on missile testing for the Redstone Test Center, or his two children, second-grader Izzy and pre-kindergartner Cole.
While Fratangelo marveled about the helicopters mechanics, his children got a kick out of jumping into the back of the Chinook and walking through its cavernous hull.
"This is all so great," Fratangelo said as he looked around a field where several pieces of hardware, including MLRS, HIMAARS, MRAP and Avenger, were on display for kids to climb into and check out for themselves.
"It's good to show kids what goes on out here. I spend my time in missile testing and my kids know about that. But there is so much more to show them."
From kindergartners to high school students, kids of all ages found something of interest at the annual Bring Your Child to Work Day. About 1,500 children registered to attend the Team Redstone event meant to bring parents and their children together for a day of education and fun on the Arsenal.
"I think it's important to familiarize kids with what we're doing on the Arsenal and what the Army is all about," Deane McKay of the Garrison's Equal Employment Opportunity Office said.
McKay brought her daughter, Kyana, an eighth-grader at Providence Middle School, and her niece, Jessica Scott, a seventh-grader at Ed White Middle School, to the event. Both girls want to pursue professions as medical doctors. But they could choose do that in the Army, McKay said.
While kids like fourth-grader David Roth climbed into the cab of the Army's Palletized Load System, other kids - like 11-year-old Elyse Yarbrough - enjoyed getting back to nature at the Garrison's Environmental Services display. There were also displays by the Garrison's Directorate of Emergency Services, Veterans Memorial Museum and the Space and Missile Defense Command.
The two police dog demonstrations -- always one of the most popular happenings of the day - attracted huge crowds. The demonstrations included showing how a police dog attacks a threatening or fleeing bad guy.
"We want kids to know what these dogs can do," said Officer Lee Riley, who is the dog handler for Cano, the day's featured police dog. "These dogs have great personalities. What they are doing is not personal. It's just the job they've been trained to do. We work together as a team."
The dog demonstration was enough to impress even the teenagers in the crowd, including 10th-grader Raven Hill of New Century Technology High School.
"It was amazing," she said.
Even though third-graders Megan McNabb and Alyse McBrager enjoyed the dog demonstration the most, they also enjoyed climbing on the Avenger missile system.
For some kids, interacting with hardware can lead to future career plans.
After climbing through the Chinook, first-grader Rashae Stiff said she wants to be a helicopter pilot. But, her brother, sixth-grader Olajuwon Moore, had other ideas.
"She's going to crash it," he said, adding that he has been dreaming about being a helicopter pilot since attending Aviation Week at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
The two siblings along with older sister, 10th-grader LaEsha Moore, enjoyed the event with mom Tyesha Stiff and grandmother Arlene Erskine, both of Military Personnel.
"We're going to see all the military systems," Stiff said. "But we also have to visit the tents because Rashae likes all the giveaways."
"And then we're going to the Sparkman Cafeteria for lunch," Erskine added.