From the fifth grade to the 3rd Herd

Tinker Air Force Base --    Most fifth-grade classes conduct their field trips at the Oklahoma City Zoo, the Omniplex Science Museum, or even the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, but not 'Ellard's Energizers'!
   Rhonda Ellard's class of 19 students from Cross Timbers Elementary School in Tecumseh had an exciting day the week of May 28, touring and learning about the many unique characteristics of the 3rd Combat Communications Group.
   Their trip began with a Combat Communications Readiness School demonstration, where the children actually watched the final attack on Class 07-03.
   While the well-established aggressor force, known as the Wolfpack, prepared for the last attempt to infiltrate the camp, Tech. Sgt. Bryan Kaut delivered some inspiring words to the exhausted CCRS students. Gesturing towards the children, Sgt. Kaut said, "This is what we're fighting for."
   He then addressed the fifth-graders for any questions before the attack, but nobody raised their hands.
   "I scared them quiet," smiled Sgt. Kaut.
   During the final attack, not one member of the aggressor force survived the relentless shots fired by the "good guys." Class 07-03 mercilessly defeated the "bad guys" while their flag flew proudly over their camp.
   Ms. Ellard's class then visited the 33rd Combat Communications Squadron for a tour of the Deployable Independent Communications Element tent and a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, led by 1st Lt. Andrew Mackenzie and 2nd Lt. Bryan Gage.
For lunch, the children learned how to prepare and eat Meals Ready to Eat, but there was also pizza on stand-by for those that did not enjoy their "gourmet MRE."
   These "Energizers" enjoyed some photo opportunities with the 3rd Herd mascot Buford. First Lt. Clayton Baker conducted a brief explanation of the items in a mobility bag. Then, the children "prepared for war" as their pen pals painted their faces camouflage for the full combat effect. The students also had the opportunity to purchase 3rd CCG coins before being "coin-checked" by Lt. Gage.
   Lastly, the students had a blast touring the M-35 2.5-ton and M-900 5-ton trucks with the maintainers from Vehicle Operations/Maintenance. Ms. Ellard and the other chaperones took pictures to share with next year's fifth-grade class. 
   The 3rd Herd Pen Pal Program has been thriving for five years. Approximately 50 volunteers from the 3rd CCG, whether deployed or in garrison, write an e-mail to one student in Ms. Ellard's fifth-grade class. The students communicate through e-mail or hand-written letters if their pen pal is deployed.
   These Airmen actually visit their pen pal at Cross Timbers Elementary School various times throughout the school year like Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day and Easter parties.
   While the parties are fun for both the children and the Airmen, Ms. Ellard and other faculty members organize a special tribute to the pen pals on Veteran's Day, which includes a flag folding ceremony by a few 3rd Herd members. All veterans related to the students at Cross Timbers Elementary School also attend the ceremony.