Taste of deployment

About a hundred or more kids were deployed at Minot Air Force Base Saturday for a mission in another country, although they didn’t deploy very far from home and the mission wasn’t life threatening.

Instead, the kids participated in Operation Heroes, an annual event held at the base to help children understand what parents go through when they are deployed.

The base hosted Operation Heroes at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. This was the third year the event was held and the one with the biggest attendance so far.

Operation Heroes invited children of military families to experience a kid-friendly version of what their mom or dad would go through when tasked for a deployment. The children went through a pre-deployment line where they received backpacks, gave their immunization records and received dog tags. Before the event started, kids could have their faces painted in camouflage tones. They also underwent a pre-deployment briefing and took a specially written warrior oath with the main instruction being to have fun.

Once activated, the “warriors” were deployed to Kidakastan. They were then given the opportunity to walk through deployed living quarters, participate in interactive displays, touch and ask questions about Minot AFB equipment and experience field rations.

Children under the age of 11 had to be accompanied by an adult. Parents had to sign a consent form for all children to participate.

With parent’s consent, children ages 12 and up participating in Operation Heroes took part in a top-secret mission that tested their skills in adapting in a deployed setting.

The day’s event ended with a reunion, barbecue picnic and military working dog field demonstrations.

The goal of Operation Heroes was to foster communication on deployment matters and give families a better understanding of the deployment experience.

“We wanted to give kids the deployment experience to see what their mom or dad get to work with,” said Master Sgt. Anton Olson, of the Airman and Family Readiness Center, about why Operation Heroes was offered.

“It helps with communication for parents to talk about with their kids and it’s a good time for the kids.” The main goal, though, was for the kids to have fun,” he added.