Everyone was a kid once and most everyone had a field day event at their elementary school. It signified the end of the school year, meaning fun games and good times with friends before summer vacation. Adults rarely get an opportunity to help out and feel like a kid again.
The paratroopers of the 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment assisted with Loyd E. Auman Elementary School’s field day events June 5 to 7. The Soldiers, as well as the faculty, gave the kids a time to remember.
Stephen LaRose, the gym teacher at Loyd E. Auman said he appreciated the help more than most. His father was in the military so he understands the kind of influence Soldiers can have on kids.
“I think it’s great that the kids got to see the Soldiers in a different light,” said LaRose. “The kids really look up to these Soldiers and that had as a whole, is a great feeling.”
LaRose went on to say that whether they have parents in the military or not, the kids were very appreciative of the paratroopers participation.
Staff Sgt. Anthony Morales, ammo section chief for Battery A., 1st Bn. 321st AFAR, said he was glad to help put smiles on the kids faces as they enjoyed their field day, reminding him or what it was like to be in their shoes.
“It’s pretty awesome when you see them have a good time because you know its genuine so they will tell you if they like it or not,” said Morales. “It made me feel kind of good because we all knew they were having a good time.”
Jacki Smith, the principal at Loyd E. Auman has invited Fort Bragg Soldiers to the school over the past eight years for her students.
Smith said she enjoys the pride, security and enjoyment the kids get from the local military community.
“Students get to see that the Soldiers are real people — young men and women who are just like their parents, siblings and other Family members,” said Smith. “Our students like to talk and interact with them because for some this is their only opportunity.”
Smith’s students received a wealth of enjoyment and satisfaction from being with the Soldiers.
The feeling seemed more than mutual.
“I think it’s rewarding because I have two kids myself. I didn’t get to go to their field day and participate in that,” said Morales. “The kids got a different perspective seeing that we can have fun too, be exciting and they can have fun with us.”
As every kid, whether in size or a kid in their heart, left each field day better then when they arrived. The kids had a blast at each station, and Soldiers put smiles on their faces, knowing that they, too, were kids once.
“Kids can learn in a school environment but with a community, they can grow,” said LaRose. “Fort Bragg is a huge part of this community and it needs to be part of the growing process. What these kids got from these past three days is something few get to learn through normal educational growth.”
Smith said she couldn’t agree more and cannot wait for next year’s event to put even more smiles on her kids faces.
“Each year our field day gets better and better. The Soldiers with their caring attitudes and willingness to participate helps make the days a success. Each child feels special because someone is there rooting them on.”
Morales agrees that the event was a success and hopes that his guys can come back in the future. Not only to put smiles on the children’s faces, but to continue building good relationships with the local community.
“It was very fun for us and the kids as well. The coach and the principal told us they wanted us to come back.
“I enjoyed it all the way around, each day I was there didn’t feel like work, it felt like we were doing something good. It is something I won’t forget, just seeing the kids smiling was an awesome experience,” said Morales.