More than 100 second-graders from Brinson Memorial Elementary School got quite the unusual field trip Thursday — the opportunity to see and explore a variety of Marine Corps aircraft and to learn about daily operations at the Provost Marshal’s Office at Cherry Point.
To many of the children, the station tour was more than just getting out of their classrooms for the day; it was an opportunity to understand what their parents do at work.
The students’ day began with a visit to the hangar of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, a KC-130J squadron that holds the distinction of being the Marine Corps’ oldest continually active squadron. After unloading from the two buses, the masses of children were greeted by the squadron’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. John Butler. Butler, who had visited the second-graders the day before to tell them about the different aircraft, quizzed them to see what they remembered and gave out squadron coins as a prize.
After breaking into groups, the students were able to see and climb on the different fixed-wing, rotary-wing and powered-lift aircraft that had been parked on the flight line, such as the AV-8B Harrier, CH-53 Super Stallion, the EA-6B Prowler, the KC-130J Hercules and the HH-46E Sea Knight.
“This gives the kids the opportunity to see the day-to-day life many of them may not have understood,” said First Lt. Joshua Soltan, the adjutant for VMGR-252. “It’s a blessing to have them here. … They are part of our community.”
Some of the students had the added bonus of their parents taking time off their on-station jobs to come out and visit with their children.
“It’s a cool place to come,” said second-grader Codi Mann, who was joined by her mother, Gunnery Sgt. Dixie Mann. “It’s like a new world, seeing the planes and helicopters up close. I’ve never been to where I can see the airplanes on the ground. It feels kind of awesome. I always wanted to be a Marine when I grew up.”
Mom enjoyed it, too.
“I love it,” Dixie Mann said. “The kids really like it, and it’s motivating for her to see what all the Marine Corps does. She has always wanted to be a Marine.”
After visiting the hangar and flight line, the students toured Cherry Point’s Provost Marshal’s Office to learn about the vehicles and facilities used by military police, as well as the roles and services they provide the Cherry Point community.
The students were able to see how police dispatch works, to check out the night vision and video cameras that continuously monitor the station and to see a demonstration at the Criminal Investigation Division. During the demonstration, the investigators found out that a teacher had “stolen” a candy bar, using fingerprint powder to find the culprit.
Before leaving the Provost Marshal’s, McGruff the Crime Dog gave out gift bags for the students to remember their visit to Cherry Point.
Cathryn Lindsay is a reporter for the Sun Journal.