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Fort Drum soldiers show off their technology to students, veterans in Sackets Harbor

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SACKETS HARBOR — Several schoolchildren had a chance to see the weapons and technology of soldiers from Fort Drum at a special presentation at the village’s American Legion hall.

In a dimmed kitchen space, Sgt. Henryk Maldonado allowed a line of children to put on a helmet equipped with a single-eye night vision sight. The configuration allows soldiers to keep vision if they suddenly receive a burst of light.

“It’s all green,” said Mikaela E. McCarson, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from the village, as she took off the helmet.

At another station, Spc. Seth A. Briscoe directed sixth-graders Thomas Berkey, 12, and Hunter Beach, 11, to talk with each other through a pair of radios.

“You guys really use this?” Hunter asked.

Other stations had students holding weapons such as an M4 rifle and an M240L machine gun, trying on military armor vests and seeing what kind of food is part of an MRE, or meal-ready-to-eat, package.

Capt. Lloyd E. Bedford, commander of Bravo Company of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said the event allowed students a chance to see what the Army uses in the field.

“A lot of the youth only see them through video games,” he said.

In honor of the upcoming Veterans Day, Capt. Bedford said, his unit wanted to visit veterans and students.

Though a limited number of veterans had stopped by the Legion hall with about an hour left in the event, Capt. Bedford said he hoped the event could show them how the military has changed over time.

“It’s adapted to the wars that they fight,” he said.

Though the event initially was planned to go later in the afternoon to allow more veterans to be involved, school and village officials proposed that it run earlier in the day so students would have a chance to see the displays.

Capt. Bedford said it was “humbling” to see the students interested in the equipment.

“It reminds you of what you do,” he said.

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