Wednesday, December 16, 2015

TOP STORY >> Airmen’s kids go North Pole

Leader staff writer

Around 50 children of airmen in the Arkansas Air National Guard 189th Airlift Wing at the Little Rock Air Force Base went on a special holiday deployment to the North Pole on Saturday. About 17 guardsmen of the wing will be overseas on deployment during the Christmas season.

The children went through the deployment process. They had a mission briefing for going to The North Pole and watched the film “The Polar Express.”

Capt. Janelle Guillbeau told the children during the briefing, “If you see an elf, stay out of its way. The North Pole looks like a FedEx center. There will be a lot of candy, so don’t eat too much. Watch out for Santa’s sleigh.”

The youngsters were given an ID, fingerprinted and wore a red or green bracelet indicating which flight they would be on. They were also vaccinated for Reindeer Flu. A dose of M&Ms or Skittles protected the children from the rare virus. Reindeer Flu symptoms include a bright red nose, fur growth, sprouting antlers, feet and hands turning into hooves and a fluffy white tail can appear.

Quarters were passed out to the children to have money to get something to eat, like their parents receive during a deployment.

The exchange rate was excellent. One quarter was equal to $1,000 North Pole dollars.

The children and family members boarded the blue military bus, where Christmas carols were sung. The trip seemed to take only a few minutes to arrive at the North Pole.

The Guard’s maintenance facility was transformed into a winter wonderland.

Elves greeted the children and directed them to workshop stations, where they decorated and ate Christmas cookies. They also made ornaments and crafts to give to their parents.

There were reindeer games to play, too, such as Christmas Bingo, bean bag toss, put the carrot nose on the snowman and a Christmas tree piñata.

Santa Claus came out, despite his busy schedule, to meet with kids and pose for pictures. The children then helped him gather toys at the North Pole to give to the less fortunate and children staying at the hospital during Christmas.

Benjamin Ussery, 3, of Conway said his favorite part of the deployment was “decorating a cookie.”

He was happy to see Santa.

His 6-year-old brother Tom, said, “There were presents. I liked making crafts.”