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PHOTO CAPTION:  A Soldier from 2-87 Infantry paints the face of a child during the battalion's "Take Your Kids to Work Day" on April 4.  Photo Credit: Sgt. Javier S. Amador

April 10, 2013
By Sgt. Javier S. Amador

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Children of Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, had an opportunity to live a Soldier's life for a day, as the "Catamounts" held their first Take Your Kids to Work Day at the battalion's headquarters April 4.

Family Members started early, with a physical training session conducted outside in the brisk spring weather. Children of all ages stretched, jumped, ran and even did pushups.

"This was the first time we tried it, at the recommendation of some wonderful family readiness spouse-volunteers," said Lt. Col. Brian Beckno, 2-87 Infantry commander. "It was a great idea that we were able to coincide with Spring Break for the kids."

After PT, Families were given an opportunity to eat in the brigade's dining facility. From there, it was off to the remainder of activities, which the unit ran in a round-robin fashion. There were static vehicle displays, combat medic and night vision goggle demonstrations, an obstacle course and an opportunity to see weapons such as mortar launchers and .50 caliber machine guns up close.

The enjoyment that the Soldiers and their Families experienced was evident in their smiles, as well as the kids' giggles as they tried on helmets and had their faces painted with camouflage. There was, however, a larger purpose for the event.

"We ask so much of our children, especially when the uncertainties of 'Mom and Dad' serving in the U.S. Army lead to deployments, long nights and many days in the field training," Beckno said. "It can be scary for our children. So, giving them a day to see what we do is important for morale of both the children and the parents. Our children deserve to see the equipment, see where Dad or Mom works, and to meet some new 'Catamount' friends they might not otherwise have the opportunity to."

Take Your Kids to Work Day ran seamlessly with Families being able to participate in any order they chose and giving everyone a chance to keep their children continuously engaged -- all a credit to the careful planning and preparation that went into the event. Beckno credited the event's success to the strong partnership between the battalion and its Families.

"(We had) lots of great volunteers with tremendous ideas on what the Catamount 'Cubs' would like the most," Beckno said. "Face painting and the morning PT session were big hits!

"From all indications, I think the parents had just as much fun, if not more, than their children," he added. "There were lots of smiling faces and … questions as the kids got to see and touch the equipment we use on a daily basis."

Battalion leaders pledged that the "Take Your Kids to Work Day" would not be the last, because of the importance of maintaining strong Family ties.

They intend to make this a semi-annual tradition for the battalion, and for the youngest of the Catamounts such as Jayedin Huckabey, son of Spc. Forrest Huckabey, A Company, 2-87 Infantry, the next Take Your Kids to Work Day can't come soon enough.

"I can't wait to get my face painted again or to look at the guns on top of the truck again," Jayedin said.