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By Tech. Sgt. Michael Brown,
Washington Air National Guard
KORAT, Thailand –The Washington and Oregon Air National Guard and the Royal Thai Air Force visited Nong Phluang Yai primary school during Enduring Partners Sept. 13.
The military personnel brought soccer balls, volleyballs, toys, and educational materials to distribute to the children at the school. Exercise Director, Royal Thai Air Force Group Captain Nat Kamintra, kicked off the ceremony with a welcome speech accompanied by words from U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, Washington Air National Guard Commander.
“Alongside this training, we have organized this community relations event focusing on civil and public affairs operations to proactively enhance the image, confidence, and trust of the public in the Air Force,” said Kamintra.
Following the opening remarks by Kamintra, Welsh briefly addressed the crowd in Thai and then again in English.
“Thank you to the teachers for hosting us,” said Welsh. “On behalf of the United States, Washington, and Oregon Air National Guard, I cannot tell you how excited we are to be here and appreciative to the Royal Thai Air Force and the people of Korat for being such gracious hosts.”
The exercise directors then recognized the school’s director and several teachers for their hard work. Welsh presented the teachers with a coin, a patch and a sticker as a token of appreciation for the teacher’s work in educating the future of the Kingdom of Thailand.
The students were then given their gifts, bags of soccer balls and volleyballs. A Royal Thai Air Force band played as some military members and children ran out to play soccer. Some people stayed and danced to the rhythmic sounds of the band as the melody filled the air.
The soccer and volleyball games were light-hearted fun; no scores were kept, no arguments over something out of bounds, just smiles and laughter.
“This is by far one of the coolest things I have been able to do in the military,” said Staff Sgt. Darius Carlton, 141st Operations Group, host aviation resource manager. “Those kids really wore me down.”
While the moments only lasted a few hours, the memories generated for the children and military members should last a lifetime.