News: ADA Soldiers lend a hand at school fundraiser
SOUTHWEST ASIA - On March 4, 23 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, which falls under the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Southwest Asia, participated in a Parent Teacher Association fundraiser for a local school.
The soldiers set up and operated the games and rides, and they talked to the students and teachers about what they do and why they are here in their host nation.
“This is a great opportunity to contribute something to the community,” said Capt. Stephen Jung, the Commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2-43 ADA.
Starting at 7 a.m., the 2-43 ADA soldiers arrived to the festival site. A group of teachers approached Sgt. Daniel Aguilar, the 2-43 ADA Battalion Commander’s driver, and asked what motivates soldiers to take time out of their day to come and help with the fundraiser?
“We just want to do our part for the community. We are not just here for the military missions but also to contribute to the welfare of the people of our host nation,” Aguilar said.
Next came the setting up of the festivals rides, games and merchant booths. Within an hour the school yard was turned into a fun-filled carnival, with everything from dart throwing, raffles, silent auctions and venders selling everything from rugs to jewels. There was the smell of food from all over the world; from traditional carnival aromas, such as hot dogs, and hamburgers, to authentic Egyptian cuisine that filled the air.
One of the biggest attractions was the inflatable giant slide, and most children only looked up at it in fear. Pfc. Jordan Partridge, a Communications Relay Group Operator, standing at a staggering 6 feet 3 inches tall, took it upon himself to encourage the kids to be part of the fun. So with an enormous smile he slid all the way down, tumbling to the ground at the end of his descent. He then brushed himself off and gestured to the kids to give it a try. Seeing that he got up without a scratch the kids quickly raced to the top of the slide without even remembering how terrified they were of it a moment ago.
To finish the day off, the children who attended the school went on stage and showed that they don’t just learn subjects like math and science. They played musical covers of A Day To Remember’s song, “You Had Me at Hello” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
First Lt. Javier De La Torre, the Fire Control Platoon Leader in Charlie 2-43 ADA, explained how he was completely blown away by how well the kids were playing music, and he was not expecting a band at all. When the kids came out and started playing he was caught completely off guard.
“I’m looking forward to another opportunity to be able to reach out to the community again,” Jung said.
This was an event that not only showed the host nation that soldiers are here for more than just a military mission, but also to be able to help and support them in any way possible. “Friendship Festival” seems like a more than appropriate title for this event; not only did the soldiers befriend their neighbors, but they had a great time doing it.