Story and photos by Sgt. Khori Johnson
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Instead of the sound of artillery they are accustomed to, “Iron” Brigade Soldiers heard thunderous roars of laughter during the Children’s Festival held in Colorado Springs, Oct. 21.
Soldiers with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participated in the festival held for children from the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire.
The wildfire affected a large area of Colorado Springs this summer, damaging more than 300 homes and burning more than 18,000 acres of land.
“It’s about unity,” said Joshua Hill, event organizer working alongside the city of Colorado Springs and the mayor’s office. “We’re just letting (those affected by the fires) know that we haven’t forgotten about them and that the city and the community still cares (about them).”
Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, spent their Sunday afternoon operating a static display of two Humvees at the festival while giving away school supplies to the children.
“It’s good for us to show support for the community and let them know that we are here,” said Staff Sgt. Antonio Olivarez, Battery B, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Reg. “A lot of people think that the Army is only (concerned) about dealing with world issues, but we’re also about helping our next door neighbors.”
Olivarez helped children at the carnival try on Army gear and answered their questions about the static display and Army life.
“It was pretty exciting to see their faces light up (as they said), ‘Wow, I’ve never gotten to see this,’ ‘What’s this?’ and ‘Is this bulletproof?’” he said.
The carnival incorporated various giveaways and activities for the children, including face painting, a bouncy house and a flag football game with a few members of the “Pacesetter” Battalion.
“It’s been fun playing football with the kids and meeting people,” said Spc. Christian Zepeda, Battery B, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Reg. “It’s been great.”
As the sun set and vendors closed down their areas, Families headed off with smiles on their faces following a day at the Children’s Festival with Soldiers from the 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.