Marine Aircraft Group 12 conducted a Junior Recruit Day for Marines’ children ages seven to 17 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, April 21, 2017.
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Junior Recruit Day increases family readiness in the community by showing children and young adults what their parents or guardians do on a daily basis.
The participants divided into two groups accompanied by Marine chaperones who lead them through the event. They engaged in activities such as various physical training exercises, an obstacle course, Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer (ISMT), an F-18 flight simulator and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighter training.
“It was a great time seeing all the kids have fun and experience what happens on this base every day,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Frederick Barsamian, a safety and survival mechanic with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. “They seemed to have a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the obstacle course because that’s what the kids enjoyed the most.”
Junior Recruit Day brought in more participants than expected and surpassed last year’s event.
“We had a great turn out. I was very happy with the amount of kids that came out,” said U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. John Abel, MAG-12 deputy family readiness officer. “We had 20 more kids than we were expecting. I thought it went really well.”
Children and young adults who participated received graduation certificates and a pair of dog tags.
“It felt good to give them the awards. They were all very happy,” said Barsamian. “I only knew them for about five hours, but they were all attached to me and having fun.”
Junior Recruit Day is scheduled to take place again next year to help keep families prepared to face obstacles that may occur while away from home.
“This event is important because it allows the kids to understand what their parents are going through and what their parents are doing, to a certain extent,” said Abel. “It brings the families together. We’re very far from home, and it’s very easy to bottle yourself up.”
Abel said family readiness is important because it can help families if a loved one is gone, and Junior Recruit Day definitely helped increase that readiness.
“In the Marine Corps we have to be there for each other, whether you’re in uniform, a spouse, or a dependent,” said Abel. “It’s not easy for a mom with two, three or four kids when their father leaves for a couple months, but knowing that service members and their families are out there connecting and building these relationships makes it easier because you have that community support.”