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Operation Reserve Kids

Airmen watch over children of members from the 944th Fighter Wing as they fire paint balls Apr. 1 during Operation Reserve Kids at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Airmen watch over children of members from the 944th Fighter Wing as they fire paint balls Apr. 1 during Operation Reserve Kids at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

944th Fighter Wing Airmen welcome home the kids Apr. 1 during Operation Reserve Kids at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

944th Fighter Wing Airmen welcome home the kids Apr. 1 during Operation Reserve Kids at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Children of members form the 944th Fighter Wing pose for a photo with Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944 FW commander, during Operation Reserve Kids at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Children of members form the 944th Fighter Wing pose for a photo with Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944 FW commander, during Operation Reserve Kids at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Over 30 children ranging in ages from 6 to 15 got a small taste of life as a reservist here during Operation Reserve Kids Apr. 1.

The 944th Fighter Wing Airman and Family Readiness office hosted their first ever mock deployment event to celebrate the Month of the Military Child. The event helped give members children a better understanding of the deployment process as the wing’s operations tempo increases.

“So many of our folks are getting ready to deploy in the near future,” said Jessica Maldonado, 944 FW A&FR director. “We wanted to host a special event for our members kids to help them feel like an important part of our military family and to feel pride in being a military child.”

The day began with the children checking in where they received T-shirts, identification badges, and were divided up into teams. Next, they received a mission brief, a mobility bag full of equipment to inspect, and then recited the Creed of the Military Child to get them ready for the day’s events.

Afterward, the young participants went through a deployment line and met with numerous sections within the wing to learn about the deployment process in a fun, hands-on way including an intelligence brief on some Gotham City villains they would face during their “deployment.”

Eventually, the mini-troops “deployed” to the Ability to Survive and Operate area where they were able to maneuver through an obstacle course and fired paint balls at posters of Gotham City villains.

Upon arrival back from the ATSO area the children received a surprise welcome home celebration from Airmen and friends including 944th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Kurt Gallegos.

“My kids immediately spotted welcome home signs specifically made for them,” said Maj. Cedric Finnen, 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “I thought personalizing signs to help the children feel special was a great touch.”

After working their way through the welcome home line the children received a certificate to commemorate the day and took a group photo with Gallegos.

“We had lots of support from both active duty and our folks here at the 944 FW including leadership, our squadrons, and our fighter wing staff agencies,” said Maldonado. “It was truly a group effort. It was really awesome to see how everyone stepped up, got involved, and did their part to make this event so much fun for our kids and helped make them feel so special.”