Given the noise emanating from the vehicles on the field, passers-by may have given the operators a bit more leeway.
Yet upon closer inspection, they’d see the people moving those expensive bucket trucks, backhoes and excavators weren’t Airmen or contractors but children from the 52nd Force Support Squadron’s School Age Program.
More than 100 children participated in the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron’s Career Day outside the SAP building June 18.
The squadron hosted the event to provide children with an insight into the work their Airmen do for the 52nd Fighter Wing every day.
But according to U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Wilson, 52nd CES electrical systems craftsman and Newport News, Va., native, the day had a much deeper meaning than it appeared on paper.
“When I was a young kid, I really didn’t have a lot of direction in what I wanted to do,” Wilson said. “I notice a lot of kids don’t really know what’s going on in CE or the things that we provide to the base and the mission. Everybody loves big trucks with loud noises and horns and things that make the earth move, so I figured they would like that, too.”
CE Airmen brought out seven vehicles from their squadron, including a loader, an excavator, a dump truck, a grater and a bucket truck. It’s also the same equipment used to lay down the foundation for all the buildings on Saber Nation that house many of the children and the offices from which their parents operate.
“The main thing I wanted them to walk away with is you get cool trucks to play with, but it’s hard work,” Wilson said. “And for them to understand the dedication we give to the base and the service we provide and how important it is and they can be a part of something great too.”
“As a kid, when you’re in your backyard, you’re playing with Tonka toys,” said Senior Airman Lorrentis Oliver, 52nd CES heavy equipment operator from Richmond, Calif. “To be able to walk outside and have the real things sitting right there with the chance to sit in them, slam the buckets down, jump in the electrical trucks, go high in the air and then go back home and play with your toys — that’s a good day. I couldn’t do that as a kid, but I could tell by the look on their faces, when they go home and push their trucks in their backyard, they’ll think ‘I just sat in one of these today.’”
“I went in a big huge truck and dumped dirt,” said Israel Kalu-Lucky, 6, son of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Irisha Fayson, 52nd FSS. He later drew a picture of the excavator and pointed out, “I was in THAT!”
“My favorite part was seeing the kids’ faces and their reactions when they went to every vehicle,” said Staff Sgt. Ernie Williams, 52nd CES fire alarm maintenance craftsman from Bailey, N.C. “My wife brought my three-year-old son out, and that’s all he talked about that afternoon. He looked at me, and it was the coolest thing ever.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Valencia Bustamante, 8, daughter of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Patricia Bustamante, 52nd Maintenance Group, and Tech. Sgt. Vicente Bustamante, 726th Air Mobility Squadron. “I can’t decide what was the coolest because there was so much! It was very nice of them to do this.”
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do it again next year,” Williams said. “This was awesome. We didn’t expect it to be this big – it started off as an idea, and all the kids loved it.”
“My favorite was hearing the kids shout out ‘Gotta Be – C! E!’” Wilson said. “Now they know C-E’s presence on the base. I love C-E and my job. For this to happen really means a lot.”