Kadena airmen spread good will in Thailand
November 9, 2004
U.S. servicemembers accomplish more than honing their skills for war when they are deployed for training throughout Asia. They also find time to volunteer to return something to the communities that host them.
For instance, more than 100 airmen from Kadena’s 353rd Special Operations Group now are deployed to Thailand. But they, and the Army and Navy unit also training with the Thai army, all found time to bring a bit of cheer to a Chonburi children’s home.
On a recent weekend, about a dozen members of the 353rd SOG painted shelves, installed a sink and repaired bicycles for children at the Mercy Children’s Center, said Master Sgt. Michael Farris, 353rd SOG Public Affairs.
They also contributed food to the center and adjacent community.
“The group collected more than 40,000 baht [$1,000] from deployed Air Force members and bought rice, milk, noodles, cooking oil and diapers,” Farris stated in a news release
“Later, the group traveled to a ramshackle assortment of tin shacks with dirt floors hugging a half-mile stretch of high-volume railroad track,” he said. “Chickens and mangy dogs scoured the garbage-lined dirt path while dusty barefoot children chased each other and played with imaginary toys.
“The airmen dispensed bags of food for 30 families,” he said. “Each contained rice, canned fish, noodles and cooking oil.”
Lt. Col. David Mobley, the Air Force mission commander, said the “mission of compassion” was as important as the exercise.
“We’re grateful for the hospitality we have received over the years training with our Thai counterparts,” he said, according to Farris. “Today’s work at the children’s center and the food donation in the poor neighborhood are a small token of our appreciation.”
Training scheduled for the monthlong exchange with the Thai military includes airdrops, air refueling, aerial resupply, static line and high-altitude low-opening personnel jumps, infiltration and extraction of personnel and airfield operations.
“Thailand is a fantastic country to train in because it includes environments we don’t find in Okinawa,” Mobley said. “Mountains in the north, water in the south and jungles almost everywhere offer fantastic training opportunities.”
Michael Farris/Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
Master Sgt. Anthony Jones, 353rd Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, hands a bag of rice to a resident of an impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of Pattaya, Thailand.