Squadron named Kadena's volunteer unit of the year

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
The 1st Special Operations Squadron was named Team Kadena's 2010 Angel Award for the Volunteer Unit of the Year at the Kadena Annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony here recently.

The award recognizes units that support people or groups not associated with their own unit that are part of Team Kadena, the local community or communities while the unit is away on temporary duty.

"We are truly grateful to be recognized with this award," said Lt. Col. Andrew Lewin, the 1st SOS commander. "Our unit has been supporting the Misato Children's Home and other organizations in the Pacific Theater for years as a way to give back to the communities that provide so much to us. We will cherish this recognition as much as we cherish the smiles of the children we see every month."

For the past few years, the 1st SOS has been supporting multiple orphanages throughout the local community and across the Pacific Theater. In 2010, the squadron supported three orphanages with a total over 500 children -- that's nearly 10 times the size of the unit of roughly 50 people.

Their primary orphanage the unit supports is the Misato Children's Home. Because funding for the home covers the necessities and not luxury items, members of the squadron make sure to donate food, money and clothing to the 47 children at the orphanage on top of their numerous visits to the home. They even make monthly visits to throw a monthly birthday party to ensure every child at the home receives a cake and at least one gift on their birthday.

The squadron also takes every opportunity to collect donations and visit foreign orphanages and deliver these gifts during their many exercises and training opportunities away from Kadena. In 2010, they visited the Talon-Talon Orphanage in the Philippines as well as the Bansongtham School in Thailand. The squadron discovered an orphanage that was critically low on diapers, formula, food and clothing. Two squadron members organized a campaign to help the orphanage and delivered over 4,000 pounds of material. During their visit to the Bansongtham School, they donated a drinking water tank, medical and school supplies, food, clothing and sporting goods.

The spouses of the 1st SOS match the members in their volunteer efforts. In addition to helping with the same volunteer programs the squadron engages in, they donate their personal time to numerous base agencies such as the USO and American Red Cross, garnering awards such as the American Red Cross Bronze Award for individual time volunteered.