Thai partnership strengthened through charity

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jessica Tait, 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group hosted three community relation (COMREL) events with private, non-profit orphanages, March 11-12, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.

“This is one of the largest COMREL events the 353rd SOG has ever done,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Walter Booker, Teak Torch 2017 first shirt. “We were able to do a lot of good for the Thai community through our donation of baby cribs, clothes, formula, milk, cooking oil, rice cookers, hot water kettles, washing machines, stoves, laptops, printers, ink, bookshelves and storage containers.”

The donation was split between Thai Red Cross Children’s Home, Friends for All Children and Sparrow Home.

“All of the places doing this work are not government funded, they are privately owned organizations and partially why we wanted to help them because we can assist them even more with the work they are doing,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Howard, Teak Torch 2017 mission commander. “Some of our focus was to help the kids but also make the job of the people doing this great work easier.”

The COMREL event occurred during Teak Torch 2017, a joint, combined exchange-training conducted with the Royal Thai Air Force 601st Squadron, RTAF 3rd Battalion Special Operations Regiment and U.S. Air Force 6th Special Operations Squadron.

“Our people get motivated with the COMREL events because they get to do a lot of hands-on direct good,” said Howard. “Instead of just worrying about the operation, they take a step back and get into the culture and people we are here to help.”

Teak Torch exercise planners dedicated six months of coordination for the COMREL event.

“A lot of this is possible because of our mission commander Maj. Howard, who worked hard to secure the funding, coordinate with the orphanages and plan the COMREL into the exercise schedule,” said Booker. “We did the leg work but he is the real hero and reason why it happened.”

In addition to the donation, military members from both the 353rd SOG and RTAF 601st SQDN played with the children and helped with renovation projects requested by the orphanages.

“You aren’t human if that doesn’t touch you,” said Booker. “Hopefully in the future, people can see the good that comes from what we are doing out here and allow us to do this more often so we can build that relationship that we need to build with our Thai partners.”