By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD - Samara Carriaga has only seen photos of her father in full battle rattle: uniform, helmet, body armor, eye protection, gloves and weapon.
The 4-year-old finally got to see her dad in his business suit Thursday as she and about 100 other families of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, visited their soldiers in the field.
The battery is conducting a live fire this week for its Multiple Launch Rocket System and many of the soldiers have been parted from their loved ones since Monday.
The families were bused to the East Fort Hood range and got to see the ins and outs of an M88 Recovery Vehicle, medical Humvee, Multiple Launch Rocket System launcher and a Palletized Load System truck before soldiers sent rockets downrange at supersonic speeds.
Samara climbed inside vehicles after giving her father, Sgt. Frank Carriaga, a big hug and kiss.
The family visit was a morale booster, Carriaga said as his daughter ran off to scale the next piece of equipment.
"It's nice to have them out there to see what we do," the 67th Forward Support Company soldier said.
It can be hard to explain his job to Samara, but events like Thursday's help, Carriaga added.
It was unclear if Samara understood her father's job more, but she was certainly impressed with the vehicles. She stared in disbelief and held her head as a crew demonstrated how a rocket launcher was loaded.
A strong family base is important to the battalion, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hatfield, the battalion's senior noncommissioned officer. During the last deployment, soldiers coordinated several joint projects with their loved ones back home. They included gathering office and school supplies for Iraqi teachers and children and facilitating video teleconferences between Iraqi and American students at Fort Hood's Meadows Elementary School.
The battalion's corporate partner, Shilo Inn, also participated in support at home, sponsoring monthly events for spouses and children, Hatfield said. During the soldiers' latest stint in the field this week, Shilo Inn workers and Army families baked thousands of cookies for them.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary. For more on this story, including what Sgt. Jonathan Utley and his wife, Megan, thought of the battalion's family day, read next week's Fort Hood Herald.