65th Engineers serve as Gold Star ‘battle buddies’

| July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments
Pfc. Mary Steward (right), 70th Eng. Co. (Geospatial), 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, helps her battle buddy, Aisseg Stagner, with his tulip pod sailboat.

Pfc. Mary Steward (right), 70th Eng. Co. (Geospatial), 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, helps her battle buddy, Aisseg Stagner, with his tulip pod sailboat.

Story and Photo by
2nd Lt. Lauren Looper, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

FORT SHAFTER — A Summer Solstice Potluck sponsored by Survivor Outreach Services provided companionship for Gold Star children at the Aloha Center, here, June 26.

Soldiers from the 70th Engineer Company (Geospatial), 82nd Eng. Support Co. and 34th Eng. Co. (Sapper), 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Bde., 8th Theater Sustainment Command, supported the event at SOS.

Gold Star children are keiki who have lost a military parent, and SOS is the Army program that provides assistance to families of the fallen by providing long-term support through support meetings, phone calls and letters.

SOS’s goal is to provide continued contact with families of a fallen Soldier and prevent a disconnect with the military.

During the potluck, families and keiki connected quickly. Children participated with their Soldier battle buddies in nine different activities: making Ti leaf lei, completing a scavenger hunt, creating artistic drawings at a station, racing tulip seed pod boats, making paper cranes and para-cord bracelets, writing stories about their families, making tissue paper flowers and identifying local plants.

The potluck and activities gave everyone the chance to relax and share common experiences.

Families brought food to share, and children ran around between stations, laughing and enjoying the activities.

Pfc. Mary Steward, information management officer, 70th Eng. Co. (Geospatial), 65th Eng. Bn, 130th Eng. Bde, volunteered as a battle buddy.

“I think it’s a great thing they (SOS) are doing for the kids, because sometimes kids are forgotten in the process of things,” said Steward. “Things like today will help them see that people still care.”

“This (potluck) was an opportunity to bring survivors together for the specific purpose of introducing new survivors to older survivors,” said Elisabeth Olsen, family support officer, SOS, and organizer of the event. “I think it’s very important for children to feel like they still belong to the military.”

When a Soldier dies, Olsen explained, the unit loses a team member.

For the military child, however, the loss is permanently felt. It means mom or dad will never come home again.

For the military spouse, the husband or wife will never return to hold him or her.

For mothers like Olsen, whose son Toby died in an improvised explosive device, or IED, explosion in Iraq, in 2007, they will never see their sons or daughters grow old.

“As a survivor and a Gold Star Mother, I wear this pin,” Olsen said, pointing to a gold star on her shirt. “May you never, ever have to wear this pin.”

(Editor’s Note: Looper is the unit public affairs representative for the 65th Eng. Bn.)

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