March 22, 2012

Kids explore military life at MCAS’ 2012 Children’s Expo

Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
Photo by Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
A Yuma elementary student handles an M240B machine gun during the 2012 Children's Expo at MCAS Yuma, March 16.

MCAS Yuma opened up its flight line to special needs youth for them to get a taste of the annual Yuma Air Show during the Children’s Expo, March 16.

Approximately 60 children from four local schools were all smiles as they got to interact with Marines and view aerial demonstrations and many of the air show’s static displays.

“This is something we try to do every year,” said Col. Robert Kuckuk, station commanding officer. “We are lucky to be able to do this.”

The expo, like the air show itself, is an annual mainstay of station events in the week leading up to the air show. This year’s expo was especially important as the Marines were able to give the kids a chance to do things they might never have done.

“This provided them a more comfortable environment to interact with civilian performers, Marines, learn a bit about aviation and enjoy what MCAS Yuma has to offer,” added Elena McShane, station school liaison.

Several Marines from around station also let the kids glimpse some of the more exciting aspects of military life by having weapons and tactical gear on display.

Station Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting dressed up the kids in their heat-resistant suits and let them in on the fire trucks. The Air Force Thunderbirds pilots even came out to say hello to the kids, passing out stickers and pamphlets.

Students also partook in activities such as face painting and coloring in pictures of military aircraft.

“The kids are having a lot of fun,” said Jyetta McCoy, a first-grade and kindergarten teacher at Gwyneth Ham Elementary School in an interview with the Yuma Sun, of the activities. “It will be a good memory for them later.

It was toward the end of the event that the smiles grew widest.

Members of the Military Freefall School team floated gracefully toward the crowd of children, previewing what would be happening on Saturday’s air show.

“Every year we invite different schools to enjoy the children’s expo and next year we look forward to inviting more schools who have not had the opportunity to come out to MCAS Yuma to enjoy the event,” said McShane.

Public displays of affection in uniform aren’t becoming of a Marine, but many made an exception for the hugs of gratitude given to them by the kids before they boarded the bus.

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