Ever wonder what it is like to see a Black Hawk helicopter up close?
Or maybe you’ve always had questions about what it is like to be in the military but never had the opportunity to ask.
The chance to learn about our armed forces was offered Saturday at Riverside Military Academy’s “Military Awareness Day.”
“What I really wanted to do was bring awareness to the Gainesville community about the military,” said Jeff Chandler, sergeant major of ROTC at Riverside. “Gainesville is a fantastic retirement community with a lot of military here, but there is not a lot of awareness, so we just wanted to bring the awareness and make this an annual event.”
Chandler said Saturday was also an opportunity for the young men at Riverside to get some flying time.
“The big draw is to get the Black Hawk here to give them a chance to fly for the first time,” Chandler said. “For them, it is exciting, and it can motivate them more.”
Chandler said that bringing other people who are in the military to Riverside can give the school’s cadets a chance to talk to other people about their future.
Military Awareness Day included many displays.
“We have about 10 or 15 displays set up in our north parking lot,” said Adriane Seymour, director of communications and public relations at Riverside. “It consists of the Armed forces recruiting as well as the American Legion and the VFW.”
In addition to the Black Hawk helicopter, there were Humvees, Army tanks and World War II paraphernalia on display.
“It is a great time for the community to come by and thank the men and women who serve in the armed forces,” Seymour said.
Sara Galbraith brought four young boys ages 6 and 8 to the military event.
Conner, Jacob, Nathan, and Ian have always been interested in the Army and were amazed by the Black Hawk. The boys were interested in seeing where the guns go and how to control devices on the helicopter.
Galbraith said that being able to see the helicopters up close gives the boys “an idea of what the military actually does and how important they are.”
“They have to learn so much to be able to fly a helicopter and support our country,” Galbraith said.
Peter Demkow, a chief warrant officer four, said that it’s good for kids to see what the Army is all about.
Same goes for Riverside cadets making a decision on their future.
“It gives us an opportunity to let them know what they need to do, such as stay in school and stay out of trouble,” Demkow said.
At next year’s event, Chandler hopes to bring the Army Golden Knights parachute team to Riverside, as well as the Army Rangers and the Army Recruiting 18-wheel vehicle, which comes from St. Louis.
“We are trying to build it as we go to make people more aware,” Chandler said.
“We’re not just combat; we are here to help the community.”