News: Offering Appreciation and Cookies
Story by Spc. Megan Leuck
By Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – As Joint Task Force Guantanamo Troopers entered the Seaside Galley for breakfast Friday morning, they were offered more than a choice of eggs, meat and fruit. Senior Leadership from the 12th Air Force and U.S. Southern Command offered Christmas cookies and thanks to JTF Troopers as part of their holiday tour and Cookie Caper mission.
"This is an opportunity for the U.S. Southern Command to come out and wish the very best of the holidays to all the Troopers here at Joint Task Force Guantanamo and at the Naval Station here at Guantanamo," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, military deputy commander at SOUTHCOM.
Guantanamo Bay was the last stop that Spears, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joe Hollen of the 12th Air Force, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Balch of SOUTHCOM visited on their holiday tour.
The SOUTHCOM area of focus is comprised of more than 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The week-long tour visited bases in countries to include El Salvador, Honduras, Guyana, Suriname and Cuba.
"We wanted to visit those locations where we have Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen," said Spears, "to say thanks to the men and women in uniform who are serving our nation away from their families over the holiday season."
This holiday tour and Cookie Caper visit is an annual event that begins at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., with the baking or donation of the cookies distributed to the Troops. This year, about 300 dozen cookies were made by the 12th Air Force spouses.
"It brings goodwill to the troops who are away from their families at this time of year," said Balch.
When the group arrived at Seaside Galley, they quickly ate their breakfast and then continued to visit with Troopers of all branches. A box filled with a variety of cookies in plastic bags was available to anyone who still had room for dessert.
"I think [the Cookie Caper event] is awesome. Last year, I did a Cookie Caper for my base [Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii] and we sent cookies to the deployed troops," said Air Force 1st Lt. Carly Omizo. "It's such a good program and I think it's great that [senior leadership] came down to visit us."
"I want to thank them for their service," said Hollen. "For us to come down and give them cookies and thank them for their service is really an honor to me."
Balch added, "I want to particularly thank the families, for [those of] us that are in uniform, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guard and Marines, we understand what we do for our nation and we go out and do it to the best of our ability. We really appreciate the fact that the families put through a lot of sacrifice in order for us to serve our nation."
The senior leadership of 12th Air Force and SOUTHCOM continued on with their holiday tour visiting Camp America and Gold Hill Galley to hand out cookies and offer appreciation.
"This is our opportunity to say thanks to all these great men and women that are serving away from their family and serving our nation," said Spears. "We appreciate what they do every single day."