Camp Gives Kids Taste of Deployment

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- It was no ordinary day at Sledgehammer Field on Kelley Hill as platoons performed physical fitness and practiced marching Sept. 19.

The training was for the children of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers to learn what their parents might encounter while deployed to Iraq.

The day started with drill and ceremony then moved to Essenbagger Field, also on Kelley Hill, to get up-close-and-personal with Army gear.

"I think it's really realistic," said Lincoln E. Jones, son of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team commander Col. Peter Jones. "I like this camp for the experience it provides for the future."

Kids got to check out an M1-A1 Abrams tank, a Bradley fighting vehicle, a Stryker medical vehicle and other transports used by Soldiers of the 3rd HBCT.

"They like shooting guns, they like the (camouflage) paint, and they were very excited about the vehicles," said Andrea Young, 3rd HBCT Family Readiness Support Assistant.

Besides vehicles, Soldiers were on hand to teach the kids about field medicine procedures, chemical detection equipment, and the various weapons used by the Army.

Day two, the kids trained on Forward Operating Base Voyager, located near Uchee Creek just outside Fort Benning's gates.

At Forward Operating Base Voyager, camp participants learned about Arabic customs and cultures from Dr. Magued Habib, the brigade's language instructor.

The two-day camp was capped with a "homecoming" on Kelley Hill, where parents stood ready to welcome their children home from their deployment.

The event was designed to help ease the transition for the children of deploying 3rd HBCT Soldiers.

"When Mom and Dad call home, it gives the kids a way to relate to what is going on," said Young.

For the kids, it was much more than two days as a Soldier.

"I'm a little sad when they're gone," said Jones. "But this helps me understand."

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