MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Marines, Sailors and families brought their children to Junior Jarhead Day with Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 16 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., June 7.
The morning-long event provided children, ages 5 to 10 years old, a chance to live a shortened day in their parents’ shoes and learn what it means that their parents are United States Marines.
This is a magnificent opportunity for the kids to see what their parents do,” said Col. Anthony Bianca, MAG-16 commanding officer. “As a parent myself, I find it pretty gratifying. As parents, we disappear for long periods of time on missions and things of that nature where kids see what we do on the news or in the movies and it doesn’t feel true to life. This is the real deal, a chance for the kids to see what their parents do for real and not through Hollywood.”
One hundred Marines volunteered their time on Saturday morning to give the children a taste of the Marine lifestyle, and not overwhelm them.
With a taste of the lifestyle, the children might understand why certain things happen the way they do or why people treat them differently.
“With the ground swell of military support that we have in the San Diego community a lot of the kids have people who come up and thank them for their parents’ service, and this gives them an idea as to why people are thanking them,” said Kelli Richardson, MAG-16 family readiness officer.
During the event, children were split into platoons by age. Then platoons went through an obstacle course, listened to demonstrations from Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, and ventured through a CH-53E Super Stallion and an MV-22B Osprey.
Once finished with the bigger aspect of their parents’ missions, ensuring aircraft can fly; children looked at unloaded weapons, sampled meals ready to eat and tried on uniforms just like their parents.
Jada Burgin, member of Zebra Platoon, joined the Jr Jarhead ranks to learn more about what her currently deployed father does.
“My favorite part was going into the Osprey,” said Burgin. “They told us we were going to Australia to give people food, because bad guys were taking theirs. I feel sad that my dad is on deployment, but when I’m here I feel closer to him. I feel protected here. We’re having fun and someday I want to be a Marine too.”
This is one of six events the unit uses to reach out to families and MAG-16 plans for more in the future. After a day in their parents’ shoes, the little Jarheads can see the aircraft their parents support and say with pride their mom or dad helped make that flight possible.