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It’s not everyday that you’ll find a kid playing around in a military vehicle, but at the Ohio National Guard’s Open House at the Christy Armory, kids and adults alike got to push buttons on some of the most high tech military equipment.
The National Guard said this annual event gives them the opportunity to connect with the public.
“It’s designed to let the community know we’re here,” said Lyndsey Williams of the Ohio National Guard. “Let the community know what our mission is and basically give them the opportunity to see the soldiers. To see our facilities.”
The Austintown Armory specializes in maintenance and recovery operations.
“We’ve got a couple different recovery vehicles staged. We also have some maintenance vehicles staged,” said Williams.
One of the vehicles there was called the Hemmett. The Ohio National Guard used it in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it plays a major role in military logistics.
“We use this to go recover stuff that’s stuck or rolled over,” said John Watson of the Ohio National Guard. “We can pick up seven tons. We can tow 100,000 pounds with it.”
Dennis Griffing of Warren has son who is a specialist for the Guard and invited him out to the Open House. He didn’t expect to have so much fun.
“I really enjoyed playing with it,” said Griffing.
“So far, a lot of the stuff they have here, all the different vehicles they have is a lot of fun to me,” added Griffing’s brother, Richard, also of Warren.
Guests also got a taste of all aspects of the military. A convoy simulator let them see what it’s like to drive in a vehicle overseas while navigating through a war zone.
“I enjoyed today. Hanging out with my brother, getting to see all the different things that he works on, does, everything like that. Meeting all his superiors,” said Richard Griffing.
The Guard was happy to continue the event this year. Last year’s Open House was canceled after the soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan.