Fort Riley Open House Saturday

When Fort Riley throws a party, itís more than streamers, cake and funny hats. They roll out the heavy artillery.

On June 1, the public is invited to Fort Riley for an Open House. The free event will introduce the public to what the U.S. Army and Fort Riley do for the nation, community and its citizens.

Many large-scale activities are planned, from a weapons firing course to historic tours.

"We have designed the dayís activities to be both informative and entertaining," said Brad Carlton, Open House project officer. "We will showcase the vast amount of military technologies and capabilities resident at Fort Riley, as well as the support systems that make Fort Riley a healthy, vibrant place to live, work and play. Our exhibits will be organized to provide a theme-park-like atmosphere for our guests who are free to tour and recreate in accordance with their own interests and pace," Carlton said.

Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team will host an interactive night vision exhibit inside a darkened facility. With goggles on, visitors will get a new perspective of what soldiers are capable of seeing at night. From behind a bunker and camo nets, the once dark environment will carry a cast of green as they see military action otherwise unknown to them.

The weapon system display area will feature the M1A1 Abrams Tank, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, M109 Paladin Self Propelled Howitzer, and many more. All of these vehicles will be open to public viewing and will be accompanied by crewmen to assist visitors inside the vehicles and answer any questions.

According to Carlton, kids can "be all they can be" by getting their faces painted in full camouflage and negotiating a challenging obstacle course sponsored by 1st Battalion, 13th Armor. Medals will be awarded to all who finish.

A weapons familiarization station run by the 70th Engineer Battalion will allow visitors to handle a full array of military machine guns, up to and including the M2, or "Ma Deuce" which fires a .50-caliber round.

At this attraction guests will experience the recoil and sensation of the high-powered machine guns as they fire belts of blank ammunition.

The 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor will operate the Laser Assault course where visitors can engage targets at various distances by shooting a laser attached to an M-16 rifle which will instantly designate a hit or miss. This system, termed the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System by the Army and referred to by soldiers as MILES, is one of the most widely used and effective training devices in the Army today.

There will be a vast array of other activities during the open house as well. Fort Rileyís Honor Guard will demonstrate saber drills and horsemanship skills as part of a mid-1800s encampment complete with blacksmith, farrier and chuck wagon. The Fort Riley K9 team will showcase police working dogs as they demonstrate narcotic and explosive detection skills.

If thatís too much excitement, a walking tour of Fort Rileyís historic district is available. The tour includes nationally significant sites, such as the U.S. Cavalry Museum and the Custer House.

King Field House will be transformed to an Expo Hall featuring booths from Fort Riley units and agencies. Local Chambers of Commerce are also invited to participate.

The long day wonít leave anyone hungry. A Fest Tent filled with a variety of food and beverages for sale will be open all day.

"We are truly going all out to make this a great day for our guests, soldiers, civilian workers and family members. Donít miss it," said Carlton.