News: Operation Beckham kicks goodwill into action
Story by Lance Cpl. Clayton Vonderahe
DELARAM, Afghanistan -- It can be a very humbling experience to share your abundance with those less fortunate. That is precisely what the Marines of the Police Advisory Team, Regimental Combat Team 8, did. On Feb. 15, the PAT Marines, along with the Afghan Uniformed Police, patrolled through the city of Delaram, Afghanistan, to deliver toys to the children of the Delaram Boys School.
Regimental Combat Team 2, the unit that was relieved by RCT-8, had left behind boxes of soccer equipment that they intended to give to the children of Delaram. In the spirit of good nature, the Marines of RCT-8 picked up where the previous unit had left off.
Dubbed by the PAT Marines as “Operation Beckham” after the famous soccer player, the Marines began the day by patrolling through the city of Delaram. As they reached their destination, the Marines and AUP prepared themselves for the children eagerly awaiting new soccer balls and jerseys donated from America.
“If we take care of the population and take care of their needs, they are less likely to cooperate with the Taliban,” said 1st Lt. Phillip Saunders of Florence, Ky., the officer in charge of the PAT. “We are helping the people see we are not the bad guys.”
With their small, calloused hands outstretched, the children eagerly grasped for the clothes, clutching them tightly. Shortly after receiving the gifts, the children were running and playing soccer, despite the rocks underfoot and only wearing sandals. The ball flew back and forth across the small area, past piles of rebar and bricks, as the children played.
Almost as quickly as they arrived, the PAT Marines and AUP were gone, but they had left behind a lasting impression on the children as well as having successfully conducted a joint forces patrol.
“Getting the Afghan Uniformed Police involved in community relationships will help them earn the respect and trust of the local population,” said Sgt. Scott Powers of Hillsboro, N.H., a squad leader with PAT.
By the time the unit made it back to their compound they were tired and sweaty, but fulfilled.
“It was an experience,” said Powers. “It was our opportunity to give to people who are less fortunate than ourselves.”