NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas --
Eight members from the 301st Medical Squadron here visited Lone Star Elementary School in Keller, Texas, Aug. 23, 2017, to read to the students and answer their questions.
As part of their unit’s community outreach program, the Airmen reached out to the school to show the children that military service members are approachable.
Their first stop was to the special needs classroom. They didn’t expect what came next.
Senior Airman Ma’Kayla Rogers, 301 MDS aerospace medical technician, was targeted the moment she stepped into the room.
“When we first walked in, one little girl just walked up to me, grabbed my hand and asked to start reading to her,” Rogers said. One by one, the students reached out to the Airmen until everyone had a reading partner.
One of these connections turned into admiration in an instant.
Master Sgt. Nate McReynolds, 301 MDS surgical technician, sat next to a little blonde-haired girl positioned at a table in her wheelchair. Within a brief moment, McReynolds had her smiling and laughing as if they were the best of friends.
The little girl is actually his neighbor, who prior to this visit, was distant at best.
“We’ve interacted at home and any time I’ve seen her outside of the home setting, she’s always shied away and wasn’t able to make that connection with talking to me and my face,” said McReynolds. “But today we connected, she recognized who I was and we were able to connect. So now, if I approach her in public, she won’t be as confused. It was really cool.”
The connections continued with other classrooms they visited, which ranged from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade. The Air Force Reserve medics spent time with students in physical education, in the lunchroom, and even participated in a classroom conversation about good citizenship. The medics expressed that the uniform actually brought the students out of their shells and increased their desire to want to talk.
During the group discussion, the Airmen were asked to choose one word to highlight what they felt made a good citizen, the dialogue was extremely well received and gave the students an opportunity to share their stories.
“Those kids have no filter so they were just asking us any and everything,” Rogers said. “It was pretty cool to just interact with them in that way.”
Time spent to connect with elementary students is valuable as a Citizen Airmen, and, as actor Helen Hayes, the "First Lady of American Theatre" puts it, “We relish news of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to somebody too.” Lone Star Elementary School Principal Steven Hurst expressed his excitement in offering these children an opportunity to meet a real hero up close.
“To me, our military are heroes,” said Hurst. “Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have heroes come out and visit your kids? They are the role models you want them to see.”