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Military children enjoy post Wheels Day

Wheels on post go round and round

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POSTED: April 27, 2010 1:18 p.m.
Photo by Denise Etheridge/

Fort Stewart firefighter Jonathan Way turns up in turn-out gear for post child development center toddlers and preschoolers during Wheels Day.

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Preschoolers eagerly waited for a turn to sit in the driver’s seat during Wheels Day Friday on Fort Stewart. Military children from the installation’s Child Development Centers were given a tour of numerous emergency and service vehicles, including a Hinesville police car, an Army humvee, a Forestry Division front-end loader and a Fort Stewart Fire Department ladder truck.
Wheels Day is one of several events held in April to celebrate the Month of the Military Child.  Former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger established the month-long celebration to recognize the sacrifices made by military families.
“My son has been asking about (Wheels Day) every day this week,” Eva Griffin said. Griffin’s son, four-year-old Sherod, attends pre-kindergarten on post. “He’s very excited,” she said.
“I’ve done this every year since HPD has participated,” Hinesville Police Department accident investigator Stacy Jungers said. “I keep my patrol car clean. I used to be in the Army here. My kids used to be (at the CDC) here.”
Jungers said the event is well-organized and CDC instructors will ask drivers three or four questions about their jobs and their vehicles. It’s also a way to teach young children who they can safely turn to for help, she said.
The questions Jungers and other volunteers normally hear from the children are, “Can I drive your truck?” “What do these buttons do?” “Can I honk the horn?” “Can I climb the (fire truck) ladder?”
Jungers turned her police warning lights on for the children, and allowed each to take a turn telling imaginary speeders to “pull over” using the patrol car radio.
Fort Stewart Fire Station 1 firefighters Orlando Thompson and Jonathan Way brought a 110-foot ladder truck for the outdoor show-and-tell event. The truck’s ladder can reach a seven-story high building and stores 1,000 gallons of water, according to Way and Thompson.
Thompson said Wheels Day gives firefighters the opportunity to reinforce what post preschoolers have been taught about fire safety.
“We talk about ‘Stop, Drop and Roll,’ setting a meeting place if there’s a (home) fire,” he said. Thompson said firefighters also remind parents to keep home fire extinguishers handy and to change the batteries in their home’s smoke detectors in the spring and fall, when it’s daylight savings time.
“We tell them (children) if there’s a fire stay close to the ground,” Thompson added.
Post firefighters also set up a demonstration smoke house during the event.
Fort Stewart soldiers displayed various heavy military vehicles, such as an M984A2 wrecker, weighing 50,900 pounds, and a 75,000-pound M920 semi-truck.
Wrecker driver Sgt. Jefferie Lewis explained to CDC children how wreckers recover Army vehicles that have “gotten stuck in the mud.”
Semi-truck drivers Sgt. Mike Maasjo and Spc. Ansumana Foday-Kakpa from the 135th Quartermaster Company, 87th CSSB maintenance platoon gave kids a chance to blow the truck’s air horn and raise and lower one of its wheels.
Fort Stewart will hold a Children’s concert April 28 and a Carnival and Family Picnic April 30 in observance of Month of the Military Child.

 

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