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Keesler hosts annual Operation HERO

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Elizabeth Davis
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Keesler’s Military and Family Readiness Center hosted Operation HERO on April 6.

This event is held annually during the Month of the Military Child, which honors more than 1.6 million military children who face challenges and unique experiences as a result of their parent’s service. Military children often move more frequently than their peers and deal with the heightened stress of fearing for a deployed parent.

Operation HERO started at Keesler in 1998 through the efforts of Tech. Sgt. John Lowe, who served as the Readiness NCO. He started the event in the hopes that by demystifying a small part of the deployment process, Team Keesler could create more positive memories and instill resilience in our military families.

“For all military members, support from family and loved ones plays a big part in our ability to maintain mental resilience and readiness to continue to support the Air Force mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Leilena Roper, M&FRC Readiness NCO. “By showing children and families what we do both at home and down range, they can share pride in our work and we are better equipped to support each other through times of separation.”

Families received out-processing and mission briefs before they “deployed” to Keesler’s flightline. Interactive events included a range of activities across different career fields: a C-130 tour, an obstacle course, self-aid buddy care, equipment including gas masks and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear suits, communications equipment, military working dog demonstration, emergency response vehicles from Keesler’s Security Forces Squadron, the fire station and the local Biloxi Bomb Squad.

Event volunteers, many of whom were 81st Training Group students, were able to use Operation HERO to get a taste of the deployment process, life in a military family and how different jobs support the mission.

“I’ve never even been on any aircraft before today,” said Airman 1st Class Jajuan McKie, 335th Training Squadron administration student. “By volunteering for this event today, I was able to see so many more aspects of military family life and interact with people in different career fields.”

For more information and resources on support for military families, visit Keesler’s M&FRC website.