The whine of the engine and the "thwap thack" of the rotors were just a part of the Army National Guard's war on drugs fought peacefully in Mills Park Tuesday.
The helicopter and a Hummer vehicle were brought in for show-and-tell by the Counterdrug Task Force of the Nevada National Guard, which has been teaching the children about the dangers of drugs this summer. The program is part of the Kickback Kamp, a summer program for children sponsored by the Carson City Recreation Division.
About 250 children visited the park Tuesday morning, where they had the opportunity to peer inside the Army OH58 helicopter and learn about how it is used to fight against drugs.
Chief Warrant Officer Bob Bagnato explained to the children that an infrared camera on the helicopter is used to help police search for people.
Bagnato said he wanted to teach the children about military careers, while also stressing the importance of remaining drug free.
"We're showing them they can do this as a pilot," Bagnato said.
The children participating in the Carson City Recreation Department's Kickback Kamp range from 5 to 14 years old.
Lt. Col. William Rohrer said it is important to teach children about the dangers of drugs even at a young age. He said the program teaches children about gateway drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana which often lead to harder drugs.
"If they never try cigarettes, they won't do anything else," Rohrer said.
He said many children have tried smoking as early as 7, and it is easier for children to get addicted because of the physical changes their bodies go through.
Rohrer said he also wanted to teach the children they need to stay off drugs if they want a career in the military one day.
"If you're doing drugs and you drop out of school, you'll be no good to the military," Rohrer said.
The Nevada National Guard brought an Army Hummer to the park for children to see. But most of the children agreed they like the helicopter the best.
"This one's big," said 6-year-old Tristen Lindsey.
Hannah Anthony, 6, also said she like the helicopter.
"It can go really fast," she said. "And the camera is to catch the bad guys."
Older children in the Kickback Kamp also said they enjoyed seeing the military helicopter. Eleven-year-old Bethany White said even though she liked seeing the helicopter she doesn't want to be in the military when she grows up.
"I don't like wars," she said.
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