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56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion's Family Field Day keeps morale high

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JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - Children burst into excited laughter and commotion as their bus approached an open with tents and military vehicles.

Family members of the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade, got to experience field life with their soldier during Family Field Day held here, June 14.

The event was held in conjunction with the Defense Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and high-yield Explosives Response Force homeland security mission field training exercise, June 11-15.

The battalion was out in the field to practice saving lives, prevent further injuries and provide critical support to those affected in the CBRNE scenerios.

The training stopped around 4 p.m. in preparation for the families arrival for dinner and to see their soldier's work area.

"We are on what's called a pause in exercise," said Lt. Col. Kimberlee Aiello, brigade commander of the 56th MMB. "We wanted to show what the medical support field looks like and spend dinner with family before resuming the mission."

Capt. David Chappell, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment 56th MMB said, "The intent of Family Field Day is to allow children to see what moms and dads do while they are out in the field. We bring the families out to enjoy time with their soldier."

"On the way out here, my 4-year-old son Matthew said, ‘Look, there are Army trucks. This is the best ride ever,' " said Maria-Teresa Correll, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Correll, the first sergeant for the 153rd Blood Detachment.

Throughout the two-hour event, families enjoyed everything from pizza to barbecue. Many children took turns walking through tents and getting in military ambulances for pictures.

Spc. Billy Sherman, a medic with the 575th Area Support Medical Company said, "I showed my children the different laboratory, radiology and dental workstations, but their favorite part was when they played in the truck, which is where I spend most of my time."

Our secretary and chief of staff of the Army acknowledges by signing the Army Covenant that family members serve side-by-side with our soldiers, enduring their hardships and provided the unconditional love and support that truly make our Army strong.

"We are a team," Aiello said. "We're a family and our extended families need to come out and see what we do and be a part of our team."

Soldiers may be the strength of our nation, but their strength may come within their families.

"The battalion supports the families, so it motivates me to give 100 percent at work," said Staff Sgt. Barry Gentry, an operations officer detachment sergeant for the 56th MMB. "We bring our children out to every event the battalion offers."

Aiello said the soldiers worked long, late hours with very little sleep during their mission in the field so this was time to relax and spend time with family while still having the opportunity for them to see what they do in the field.

"We stopped the field exercise to enjoy time with our families," Aiello said. "Now that the families are departing, we will begin our redeployment plan."

Ultimately, family members left with a new appreciation for some of the challenges that soldiers face when they work and live in the field environment. For the soldiers, it was a moment to relax and spend time with their families.

Photo: Sgt. Sarah Enos

Keiko Sander, 4, gives her mom, Natalie, a flower before saying goodbye for the night to her dad, Capt. Mark Sander, commander for the 551st Medical Logistic Company, 62nd Medical Brigade, after Family Field Day, June 14. The intent was to allow kids to see what moms and dads do while in the field and to enjoy time with their soldier.

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