Kids meet Shaw Weasels

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Airmen assigned to the 20th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center hosted a Kids Meet the Shaw Weasels event for more than 280 participants, July 28.

The event, previously called Operation: Take Flight and Kids Meet the Viper, was designed to provide Team Shaw children a fun and educational experience to help them understand what military members go through when they deploy.

“Kids aren’t able to articulate how we as adults articulate, so we try to give them these resiliency tools to prepare them for when the events do come so they will be aware of the feelings they’ll be going through,” said Master Sgt. Tiffany Rankins, 20th FSS readiness NCO in charge.

Participants donned individual protective equipment, and received dog tags and educational activity books in a mock deployment processing line before getting a close look at a 20th Fighter Wing F-16CM Fighting Falcon.

“There’s a lot of background to the military that the kids don’t get to see,” said Airman Edward Smith, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron material management apprentice. “(This event) gives them a good perspective, their own perspective, of what we do.”

The A&FRC also provided the spouses accompanying their children with information they could use to help family members transition through the phases of deployments.

“It’s just another venue for us to use to prepare them for homecoming and how the interactions with their children and their families will be,” said Rankins. “It’s some of the continuous education that the A&FRC provides to our deployers and our families to ensure not only is the member ready, but the family members are ready as well, because family readiness is just as important.”

Rankins added that helping these families learn about deployments would not have been possible without the assistance of more than 60 volunteers, all of whom played a vital role in making the event a success.

Although the event was intended to provide a fun and educational experience, it was also aimed at helping children of service members understand the importance of their support for their Airmen and Soldiers.

“Just showing them how important they are as kids, how important they are to the Team Shaw mission in that, even though they are junior Weasels, family is an integral part in the success of our military,” said Rankins. “We (as service members) may get up in the morning and put on the uniform, but they are just as important in helping to make sure we at Shaw are able to get the mission done.”