By Sgt. Marcie C. Wright and Sgt. Richard Hernandez, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, Public AffairsMay 30, 2012
EL PASO, Texas -- Soldiers and civilians with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, showed off military static displays, tactical and protective equipment, and Army uniforms at the Dr. Sue Shook Elementary School Career Day May 26.
During the event, children tested the weight of interceptor body armor with Kevlar, climbed into an up-armored HMMWV and viewed the world through Army binoculars.
Although Friday was part of a holiday four-day weekend, seven Soldiers, including the battery commander and first sergeant, and two civilians supported the event with indoor and outdoor booths.
This is the third school the unit helped with career day this year. The battery commander and first sergeant seem to have soft spots in their hearts for guiding the nation's children in the right direction.
"It's an obligation as adults to share experiences and what we learn in our lives to the kids, so that they have a smoother path," said Capt. Kiet La, 402nd HHB commander.
Whatever careers the children might choose, La wanted them to know education is the most important thing.
"We want to show them the different jobs in the Army, but even in the Army you need to go to school in order to be successful at your job," La said.
First Sgt. Jerry Silva asked students what they thought a Soldier's job was, which elicited answers including "kill the bad guy," "throw grenades," and "protect the Navy." Then, Silva asked the children what they want to be when they grow up, and they shouted out "doctor," "dentist," "policeman" and more.
"Let me tell you a secret," Silva told his audience. "We do all of that in the Army. We have veterinarians, eye doctors, policemen and just about everything else you named."
Students also said that a Soldier had to be tough and strong.
"To be a Soldier," Silva agreed, "no matter what your job is, you have to be strong physically -- you have to exercise a lot.
"But you also have be strong up here," he said, pointing at his head.
Spc. Esequiel Valadez, a Reserve Soldier in the unit's personnel section, said he is a big supporter of talking about Army careers with children.
"This gives us an opportunity to [share with] the kids," Valadez said. "They'll be much more informed of what the military does. We are not Soldiers fighting wars all the time. We represent the community."
All the 402nd representatives agreed that participating in Career Day benefits not only the children, but themselves, as well.
Silva said it fills a void in his life after being away from his own children during their younger years. La said it rekindles his interest in his own military career, explaining that, over time, one can become stagnant and maybe even complacent.
"It's a rewarding thing to do that only takes a little bit of your personal time," La said.