News: USACE personnel celebrate Father’s Day in Kabul Afghanistan
Story by Mark Rankin
KABUL, Afghanistan –U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel from the Afghanistan Engineer District North at the Qalaa House compound were treated like royalty during a special Father’s Day celebration June 17.
In a restaurant-like setting complete with a sports bar theme and the sweet aroma of hamburgers and chicken, more than 150 USACE fathers, grandfathers and future fathers gathered inside a decked-out, transformed K-span and bunker to enjoy a special dinner complete with fixings served by women from the district.
They enjoyed made-to order specialty sandwiches with their choice of onion rings, french fries, potato salad, desserts and a variety of beverages. As they entered, women tied a traditional Afghanistan scarf on each man’s neck.
Air Force Lt. Col. Yvonne Spencer, deputy commander for district, from Columbia, Md., served as the master of ceremonies, and thanked the special guests and lauded women of Qalaa House for supplying the work, great food, fun, fellowship, games and prizes. Spencer explained her definition of a good father to the men and reflected on fond memories of her father.
“With your actions, you are setting the standard for your children, nephews and nieces or anyone that watches you,” said Spencer. “Because you’re making a sacrifice and you’re giving to be part of something, that is bigger than yourself and for that I salute each and every one of you.”
Army Maj. Phillip Fleming, chief of J3 Operations for the district, from Lorton, Va., and father of an 11-year-old daughter, praised the organizers and said its times like this that remind him of how special it is to be a father. He said that the Father’s Day dinner shows appreciation to civilian and service members while they are deployed.
“Sometimes it’s events like this that allow us to forget that we are in a dangerous place because of the great people around you,” said Fleming.
Glenn Cornett, an operations manager from Hazard, Ky., picked up a door prize for having the most grandchildren with nine.
“Father’s day is special to me,” said Cornett. “I enjoyed the meal and being around friends.”
Joel Ramos, an operations specialist who attended the event has two boys 10 and 14-years of age. He said his family back home supports his sacrifice of being deployed during Father’s Day.
“I really miss my family and especially time with my boys helping them with their homework, so this makes me appreciate the importance of why I am here,” said Ramos from San Quan, Puerto Rico.
Milton Swaitanek, from Jacksonville, Fla., said his children are grown, but the event reminds him of special Father’s Day trips he used to take with his kids to the beach.
“We used to have some great times and I miss that,” said Swaitanek.
Fleming said the success of USACE’s mission relies on the individual sacrifices of civilians and service members.
“It is very important for us to spend time together to celebrate events like this with each other,” said Fleming. “My job is to look out for USACE personnel’s safety and security throughout Afghanistan – and now these ladies showed us that they are looking out for us,” said Fleming.