News: Bagram Airmen spread cheer, share smiles
by Staff Sgt. Marcus McDonald
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Airmen participating in the ongoing Global War on Terrorism at nearby Bagram Air Field took time to spread some cheer and share smiles with the people of Afghanistan as part of an Adopt-A-Village visit here Nov. 3.
More than 1,200 pounds of winter clothes, blankets, school supplies and toys were distributed to the local village, according to Master Sgt. Edgar Langdon, Bagram's Adopt-A-Village coordinator.
"Our Adopt-A-Village program gives Airmen from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing a chance to travel outside the gate and share some goodwill with the people of Afghanistan," said Sergeant Langdon, a native of Hatboro, Penn., deployed to Bagram from Davis-Monthan Air Force, Base, Ariz. "During this visit, we focused on efforts on items that'll hopefully come into good use as the temperature drops in coming months."
Chief Master Sgt. Debra Ballentine, 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group superintendent, described the visit as "awesome."
"This experience gave us a chance to show the local community just how much we care," said Chief Ballentine, deployed to Bagram from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "We're here in Afghanistan to encourage a spirit of cooperation. Adopt-A-Village visits are one of many ways in which we can do this."
Chief Ballentine, a native of Lacey, Wash., said the village children were delightful.
"Many of them enjoyed getting their picture taken, especially when they were
able to immediately see their picture after it was taken," the Chief said. "They were excited about getting school supplies and several even tried to learn a few words of English."
Putting this project together took a lot of work on the part of several agencies, to include people in the United States who have sent clothes, school supplies, toys and food, Chief Ballentine explained.
"We appreciate their generosity and compassion for the people of Afghanistan," she said. "Their efforts are truly making a difference."
Master Sgt. Donnie Wright, special-purpose vehicle and equipment craftsman, 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, said this trip will allow him to better explain to his family and friends some of the reasons he's deployed to Afghanistan.
"People seem to understand a little better from someone who has a first-hand
experience with what is going on outside the base," said Sergeant Wright, a native of Empire, Ala., who's deployed to Bagram from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.
Staff Sgt. Matt Greene, biomedical equipment repair technician, 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, said the visit gave him a chance to get off the installation and see the 'real" Afghanistan.
"It was a chance to see for myself some of the wonderful things we are doing for the people here," said Sergeant Greene, who's deployed to Bagram from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
"Seeing everyone's excitement and the smiles on the children's faces was definitely the highlight for me," said the sergeant, a native of Knoxville, Tenn. "Hopefully programs like this can continue so more Afghan children will get to see the kindness in the hearts of the American people."
Airman 1st Class Eric Nelson, aerospace ground equipment apprentice, 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, and Airman 1st Class Raul Tellez, EC-130H crew chief, 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, both said the visit was an unforgettable experience.
"This trip gave me a chance to see how the locals live while at the same time giving them things they could use to make their lives better," said Airman Nelson, a native of Taunton, Mass., who's deployed to Bagram from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. "I really enjoyed seeing how little the villagers had (possession wise) and yet how happy they still were."
"I really loved seeing the small children's faces after they received the things we had for them," said Airman Tellez a native of Chowchilla, Calif., who's also deployed to
Bagram from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. "Once the trip's over, you're really proud of what you've done and of the country you serve."