It rained so much during Armed Forces Week, held May 13 to 19, events throughout the area were canceled as almost 5 ½ inches of water fell on Fort Meade.
So what do families do when it rains day after day and into the weekend? They go to the National Cryptologic Museum!
The annual Armed Forces & National Police Celebration on May 10 at the NCM attracted nearly 1,500 people of all ages throughout the day.
This year’s theme, “America’s Sons & Daughters,” aimed to strengthen the bond between the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters serving in the U.S. Armed Services and police departments and the local community.
The 30 activities at the event included static displays, demonstrations, performances, and hands-on activities by active-duty service members and Reservists, civilian and military police departments, private and public organizations that support the armed forces, and federal government employees.
A popular display was the mobile chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear lab from the Maryland Army National Guard’s 32nd Civil Support Team. Children and their parents who entered the vehicle were greeted by 2nd Lt. Christopher Vinciguerra, who showed them the equipment on board and explained how the CST supports military and civil authorities in certain emergencies.
The National Security Agency Police displayed its mobile command unit and weapons of mass destruction truck. Officers presented specialized equipment so visitors could see how the police do their jobs to protect the agency and the community.
Even the NSA Police Bike Patrol stopped by to tell visitors how they protect the community.
Children enjoyed climbing into the Maryland State Police’s Underwater Recovery Team rescue boat and inspected underwater diving gear and other special equipment.
When stepping off the boat, the young visitors met with members of Fort Meade’s 2nd Working Military Dog Detachment, who allowed them to try on a protection suit that trainers wear when training their furry battle buddies.
Youngsters also engaged in games and challenges that were stationed along the NCM’s sidewalk. The children played for prizes while their parents talked to the exhibitors about financial services, insurance programs, veterans’ benefits, and military cyber professionals.
Indoor activities were just as engaging. After being greeted by members of the U.S. Air Force and Navy, visitors took a chance on raffles with the NCM Foundation for prizes and a hand-made wooden U.S. flag by hobbyist David Schaffer.
NSA Police K-9 officers ran demonstrations with their four-legged partners. NSA’s K–12 STEM Outreach Program offered puzzles and challenges to children to make and break codes.
Visitors also learned about the effects of drunk driving by donning special goggles that simulate various levels of intoxication.
Another officer from the NSA Police Training Unit allowed children to strike him with a training baton while he wore a protective suit.
In the NCM’s library, Sailors taught children the secrets of nautical knot tying. Visitors also met Airmen from the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, who taught them about technical skills they bring to the fight for the nation’s security.
Other activities and attractions in the museum included ham radio operations, World War II re-enactors, a Korean War display, experts from the Cold War Museum with artifacts, and NSA’s SHAPE program that challenged children to do pushups and jumping jacks to earn prizes and learn about staying in shape.
The U.S. Army Field Band’s Ambassadors Jazztet performed two sets of music to a packed room in the museum.
The U.S. Marine Cryptologic Battalio provided food, snacks and drinks for donations.
Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of NSA and chief of Central Security Service, also attended the celebration. Joined by his wife, Susan, and senior enlisted advisor Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker, the general visited each station and took several photos with children, families and other visitors.
Nakasone also posed for a photo with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corsairs Squadron as approximately 20 of the youngsters gathered under a canopy with the four-star general. Many then returned to their table to demonstrate STEM skills and help with traffic control.
Scores of children darted from one table or exhibit to another in search of items during the “Making the Rank” scavenger hunt. The hunt challenged youngsters to identify 20 military ranks displayed on exhibits and displays.
When finished, they brought their answer sheets to the Freedom Optimist Club, where they received a free snow cone, courtesy of the NCM Foundation. More importantly, by engaging in the activity, children and their parents talked to Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and local and state police officers and got to know them a little better.
The NCM’s Armed Forces & Police Celebration helped people understand that members of the military and police are people just like them, facing the same life challenges they do.