OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. —
They were not intimidated when a 6-foot-4-inch man wearing four stars on his collar walked into the room. They were more interested in the large striped Cat in the Hat reading hat he was wearing and that he was willing to share it with anyone who wanted to try it on.
U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), and other USSTRATCOM senior leaders took time out of their schedule to read to preschool and kindergarten children at Child Development Centers (CDC) I and II at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on April 26, 2018, in honor of the Month of the Military Child.
These dynamic leaders, who are professionals in the fields of space, air, sea and nuclear operations, grabbed attention when they walked into the classrooms of students ranging from three to five years old. Their gentle demeanors and smiles kept the children engaged with books the leaders personally chose. Hyten read a book called, “There’s No Place Like Space,” and many other leaders followed suit with themed books, such as, “The Sailor’s Alphabet” or “Where Do Jet Planes Sleep at Night,” in which Rear Adm. Daniel Fillion, USSTRATCOM director of global operations, lost control of his audience as the kids rushed to find the mouse hidden on each page.
The idea to have USSTRATCOM leaders read to the children came from U.S. Air Force Capt. Melissa Urbansky, USSTRATCOM intercontinental ballistic missile force employment planner, and mom of three children. Two of her children attend the CDC.
“It is wonderful how this came to fruition,” she said. “The CDC is filled with military children and I suggested we should get important people together with important little people. Everyone was on board with the idea.”
The Month of the Military Child is part of the legacy left by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He established the Defense Department commemoration in 1986.
“April is a time to put special emphasis on the programs we administer year-round,” said Rosalyn Johnson, 55th Force Support Squadron Child and Youth Services flight chief, “Offutt and military installations worldwide hold special events and festivals to honor and celebrate the strength of our military children throughout the month. Offutt’s theme this year is ‘Connecting Our Military Families,’ reminding us that our children grow up in the global community.”
According to the Department of Defense, there are currently 1.7 million children of active-duty members worldwide and the average military child will move six to nine times through high school. The children have endured repeated challenges, through multiple deployments, to include, making new friends, getting to know new teachers, and learning about different environments.
“During this month, we not only wanted to honor these remarkable children, but also bring awareness about the challenges they face and the strength and courage they demonstrate every day,” said Johnson. “Like the official flower of the military child, the dandelion blooms everywhere the winds carry them. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands and new friends.”
USSTRATCOM leaders recognized the children as examples of resilience as they support their parents that form the combat-ready force of the global warfighting command.
U.S. Strategic Command has global responsibilities assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence, nuclear operations, space operations, cyberspace operations, joint electromagnetic spectrum operations, global strike, missile defense, and analysis and targeting.
For more information, contact the USSTRATCOM Public Affairs Office at 402-294-4130 or USSTRATCOMPA@mail.mil or visit www.stratcom.mil.