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    Service members volunteer to provide humanitarian assistance

    Service members volunteer to provide humanitarian assistance

    Photo By Sgt. Derek Kuhn | Spc. Bruce Petersen, 33-203rd and Air Force Capt. Bryne Main, logistics officer, load...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Derek Kuhn 

    40th Public Affairs Detachment

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Service members from Forward Operating Base Lightning and Afghan national army have come together to provide humanitarian assistance to local villagers.

    Through donations from various websites, churches and the Boy Scouts of America, FOB Lightning volunteers put together humanitarian assistance packages consisting of food, winter clothing, toys, school supplies and shoes for Afghans.

    Many volunteers said they helped because it was the right thing to do.

    "We are trying to help people anyway we can," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Magnum, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division command sergeant major. "Whether we're mentoring the ANA or giving them aid, it is part of being an American. It is what we do; we help people."

    Others echoed Magnum's sentiments.

    "It makes you feel that you are part of something bigger than yourself," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Joan De Jesus, a service member at FOB Lightning. "It makes me proud to be in the military; prouder to be an American."

    Volunteers recounted the plight of some of the children and how it has impacted them.

    "It defies belief of what they don't have," said Army Col. Kevin Hulett, ARCAC logistics mentor with the Illinois National Guard. "There are kids around our FOB with no shoes, no socks in two or three inches of snow sticking their hands through concertina wire and grates saying, 'gimme something, gimme chocolate.' They have less than the homeless people back at home."

    When the humanitarian assistance packages are delivered, the children show their gratitude.

    "The children are elated," said Hulett. "They are all smiles. A bag of pencils, a bag of crayons, a little notebook or a Hot Wheels car are a treasured item to these children."

    Magnum described it as "Christmas every time."

    The humanitarian assistance mission has a tactical effect on the overall counter-insurgency mission.

    "The insurgents are trying to spread the word that we are the bad guys and we are trying to show the Afghans that we are good guys," Magnum said. "I think this is one good way to show it."

    "It helps us with our mission," said Hulett. "It's so they know we aren't just a kinetic force. We are here to help their Army, help their police force and help them."

    Some believe the humanitarian aid gives the Afghans something to hope for.

    "We're trying to give these people some hope," said De Jesus. "[We are trying] to help make that light at the end of the tunnel brighter."

    The act of volunteering brought all parties together in the spirit of humanity.

    "It is a camaraderie thing," said Hulett. "Everyone from all the forces is having a good time."



    Date Taken: 02.24.2009
    Date Posted: 02.24.2009 08:58
    Story ID: 30371
    Location: BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF 

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