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    Cobra Gold 24 brings Thai-American Airmen home

    Cobra Gold 24 brings Thai-American Airmen home

    Photo By Senior Airman Joao Marcus Costa | Airman 1st Class Chanon Absomtua, 80th Fighter Generation Squadron crew chief,...... read more read more

    KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, THAILAND

    03.04.2024

    Story by Senior Airman Joao Marcus Costa 

    35th Fighter Wing

    KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand – Traveling almost becomes second nature when joining the military. Joint Exercise Cobra Gold 24 is no exception, bringing thousands of troops from seven countries to the Kingdom of Thailand for the first time to participate in mainland Asia’s largest annual exercise. However, in the case of one Airman, traveling for Cobra Gold 24 provided a unique chance to reconnect with his roots.

    The 80th Fighter and Fighter Generation Squadrons from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, journeyed more than 2,100 miles to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base to provide aerial support via their F-16 Fighting Falcons during the joint, multinational training. One of the squadron’s most junior members, Airman 1st Class Chanon Absomtua, 80th FGS crew chief, grew up just a few hours away from Korat, making the 80th Fighter Generation Squadron’s participation in Cobra Gold 24 sort of a homecoming.

    Absomtua was born near Bangkok, where he lived until he was 12, when his mother remarried and moved the family to Minnesota. After the move and living in the U.S. for some years, Absomtua constantly considered joining the military since his father served in the Army and his uncle was a crew chief. Finally, at 39, he decided to join the Air Force to push his limits and leave his comfort zone.

    “I wanted to see what it was like being part of the military,” said Absomtua. “I was pretty comfortable in my old job; the pay was good, but it was really easy, and I wanted to challenge myself.”

    While also completing his duties as a crew chief, ensuring the 10 F-16 aircraft are ready to fly, Absomtua has also picked up additional roles during Cobra Gold 2024. Due to his background and proficiency in the Thai language, Absomtua was asked by leadership to serve as an interpreter on standby in the event of an emergency to provide quick, reliable, and in-person translations to keep all exercise participants synchronized and safe.

    When off-duty during Cobra Gold, he still works on bridging the cultural divide between the two nations he calls home by guiding his fellow Airmen through the country, explaining Thai culture to them, and breaking down the language barrier between U.S. airmen and locals.

    “My coworkers wanted to try authentic Thai food, so I took them around and explained to them what each menu item was and gave them recommendations,“ said Abmostua. “We also went to the mall, where I explained the different symbols, cultural norms, and what not to do in Thailand.”

    On one of the weekends, Absomtua made the most of his time off and was given a chance to visit his hometown to reunite with his family at his mother's house after eight years away. There, he could enjoy their company and catch up with family members he hadn't seen in a long time.

    “He’s one of our hardest workers, even as an Airman First Class from tech school,” said Master Sgt. Julian Evans, 8th Fighter Generation Squadron aircraft section chief. “We didn’t hesitate to give him a chance to meet up with his family. I know from personal experience that it's a great opportunity to fulfill the mission of the Air Force and still reconnect with family.”

    From catching planes as a crew chief to breaking down cultural boundaries, Absomtua has worked on and off-duty during the exercise to ensure a successful mission and is grateful for the chance to work for both countries to reach a common goal. Although he has already seen so much despite this being his first time traveling for work, he has high hopes for the rest of his time during Cobra Gold.

    “I’m looking forward to seeing other jets come together and seeing them in action. It’ll be interesting seeing how we’ll collaborate with our allies in different languages,” said Absomtua. “At the end of this, I want to leave a good impression with the Thai military to show we have excellent military personnel. And I think we can do that by engaging with them and talking with them.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.04.2024
    Date Posted: 03.07.2024 04:16
    Story ID: 465546
    Location: KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, TH

    Web Views: 117
    Downloads: 1

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