The American Legion Oro Valley Post 132 put on the annual family day for the 1-285th Arizona Army National Guard Unit this past Sunday. The event was held inside one of the apache helicopter maintenance hangers at the Silverbell Heliport at the Pinal Air Park in Marana.
“The Post and Auxiliary Unit 132 are the primary community partners supporting the annual family day,” said Post Commander Ed Davis.
Although an exact count was not made, event organizers believe around 1,200 people attended.
There were many activities for the kids and families, including an appearance by Santa Claus, magicians, a juggler, an illusionist and several face painters and what Davis described as “an endless supply of Sonoran Hotdogs.”
“We are the only community partners that support the event with volunteers,” Davis said, noting that this year they had 56 volunteers “performing every function necessary to ensure another successful event.”
Davis said he and the other volunteers took care of everything including cleaning the restrooms, staffing all of the children activities, removing trash, judging the chili cook-off, staffing the drinks and dessert stations and operating the raffle.
“We do these things so that the lower ranking enlisted soldiers who usually get stuck doing them, don’t have to,” Davis said. “They can spend time with their families, which seems appropriate since it is family day.”
The day is indeed special to the families, for some it is a chance to let their children and spouses learn more about this important aspect of their lives.
“It is the one time of the year they can share my experiences,” said Captain Alan Schmidt, Commander of E/1-285th ARB. “They get to meet the people I talk about and see the places I work.”
Of course it is also a fun time for the family.
“My family really looks forward to it,” Schmidt said. “It is something my daughter talks about all year.”
It also gives an officer like Schmidt a chance to interact with the families of the solidiers under his command.
“They are the support system for that solider,” Schmidt said. “It is important to value family. To have a good soldier they need to have a good family. It is my chance to meet and interact with them and get to know them and my soldiers more.”
This is the single largest annual Arizona National Guard event supported by the Post and auxiliary Unit. In 2013 they received the most prestigious annual national award issued by the National Guard, Washington, DC Bureau for their support of the Arizona National Guard.