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Wednesday was "Spouse It Up" day for folks at Aviano Air Base, Italy, but it looked like the kids were having the most fun. Here, a handful of them jump in an inflatable castle.
Wednesday was "Spouse It Up" day for folks at Aviano Air Base, Italy, but it looked like the kids were having the most fun. Here, a handful of them jump in an inflatable castle. (Kent Harris / S&S)
Wednesday was "Spouse It Up" day for folks at Aviano Air Base, Italy, but it looked like the kids were having the most fun. Here, a handful of them jump in an inflatable castle.
Wednesday was "Spouse It Up" day for folks at Aviano Air Base, Italy, but it looked like the kids were having the most fun. Here, a handful of them jump in an inflatable castle. (Kent Harris / S&S)
Fourteen-year-old Sam Hall, left, and Joe Gould, 11, square off in fake sumo wrestling suits Wednesday at Aviano's “Spouse It Up.”
Fourteen-year-old Sam Hall, left, and Joe Gould, 11, square off in fake sumo wrestling suits Wednesday at Aviano's “Spouse It Up.” (Kent Harris / S&S)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Wednesday was designated spouses’ day at Aviano Air Base, but someone apparently forgot to tell the kids. They were the ones who appeared to be having the most fun.

But then, with school out for the summer, just sitting down to eat a hamburger for a few relatively quiet seconds while the kids played with friends may have been enough for some spouses.

Either way, hundreds of them — spouses and children — turned out for the first “Spouse It Up” day on base.

Barb Yates, whose husband took command of the 31st Fighter Wing last month, was one of the organizers.

“I think it’s important that spouses know how important they are to part of the mission,” she said.

The base, with the help of agencies such as the Family Support Center, is planning to have an event of some kind for spouses every month. Yates said they wouldn’t always be large barbecues with activities for kids.

“Once kids go back to school, the dynamics will change,” she said.

There are currently about 700 airmen stationed at Aviano who are deployed. Many of those, including members of the 510th Fighter Squadron and 603rd Air Control Squadron, are involved in operations in Southwest Asia.

Melody Walker’s husband, Lt. Col. Jon Walker, commands the 510th. She attended with their three children.

“It’s very nice,” she said. “It brings us all together, gives us all a chance to mix.”

And eat. Burgers and hot dogs went as fast as those on the grills could produce them.

“We bought 200 [hamburgers and hot dogs] and they’re going back for more,” said Master Sgt. Eric Alber.

Of course, the kids seemed more interested in playing than eating. They tossed water balloons, said hello to Sparky the Fire Dog, donned fake sumo costumes and jumped in an inflatable castle.

While her daughters Mallory, 5, and Marissa, 3, jumped, Michelle Brennan stood watching and holding a plate with a pair of hot dogs. Brennan, whose husband manages the base exchange, somehow ditched the plate a few minutes later and played heroine — diving into the suddenly deflating castle to make sure none of the youngsters were smothered.

None of the kids seemed fazed; the castle was soon up again and the party continued, barely missing a beat.

Migrated
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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