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Armed Forces Day 2014 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Showcasing what the military does

CIVIL WAR: War will once again break out at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Armed Forces Day. J.M. Simpson

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If you like laughing at comedians, watching jugglers and stilt walkers. If you like military history, seeing historic weapons from the Civil War and WWII.

And if you like seeing modern day military equipment like a UH-60 Black Hawk or weather balloon systems from WWII.

Then the Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Armed Forces Day Saturday, May 17 is the place for you. It's got it all.

Besides all the entertainment and historic displays, there are the carnival rides, pony rides, food and craft booths at both Cowan and Memorial stadiums from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

"The purpose of the day is really to showcase what our military does," said Colin Brooks, the event director.

And to go along with the historic displays there will be free entertainment like: Eric Haines, the one-man band; Bill Robison, the juggler; Rene Bibaud, the five-time world jump rope champ; Larry Dobson, a stilt walker; Janet Rayor, Ms. America stilt walker; and Alex Zerbe, a stand-up comedian.

For the military enthusiast, there's artillery equipment like the M777 Howitzer, the M142 HIMARS rocket system, the explosive disposal equipment, the weather balloon systems and a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

It all adds up to one huge slice of fun.

"There's a lot of things for the family and kids," Brooks said. "There's also the battle reenactments. They add a neat element for children and family."

Dressed in Civil War uniforms and using musket rifles and authentic cannons, there will be a reenactment of a Civil War battle scene during the day. The Fort Steilacoom Historical Society will help put on the battle reenactment.

To entertain the younger children, there will be the Clowns Unlimited. Besides clowning around, Brooks said the clowns will also put together an "inflatable land."

"It's bouncy castles, slides and things like that," Brooks said. "On one side of the fence, we have the carnival and on the other side we have things more geared toward the little kids."

For the smaller children, there will be the petting zoo and pony rides. The carnival rides and food all cost something. But everything else is free. Free is affordable.

"You can't beat free," Brooks said. 

Two sporting events will also happen May 17. At 10 a.m., there will be the JBLM championship soccer match, and at 1 p.m. there will be the annual Army-Navy rugby match.

To gain base access for Armed Forces Day, take exit 119 off of I-5 and head for the JBLM DuPont gate. Proceed to the parking area, where shuttle buses will transport visitors to and from the event site.

Drivers with passes can use any gate and proceed to the Cowan and Memorial stadiums.

Everyone 16 and older must show a driver's license to enter the base. Visitors may not bring weapons, alcohol, fireworks, or pets onto the base.

The Volksmarch will be a 5K and 10K walk that drew 300 walkers last year. This year there will be a 15K Volks bike.

"It's a lot of fun," said Preston Johnson, the Volksmarch coordinator. "This event was really popular with the military up until about 2000."

The first Armed Forces Day in Washington was held at Fort Lewis in May 1982.

"Armed Forces Day shows what we do here," Brooks said.

Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days.

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