SOG Airmen donate gifts to RMAF school children

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena AB shared off-duty time and donated items to improve the quality of life of over 100 children from the school on a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base here June 12.

The Airmen raised more than $1,600 and donated sporting equipment, books and school supplies to the school. During their off-duty time, special operations airmen shared time with the children by enjoying lunch together and spending a few hours playing badminton, basketball, volleyball and soccer.

For these special operations airmen, the event was a small way to repay hospitality provided by RMAF members and their families during a three week, joint and combined training exercise with the RMAF.

"In America, our communities are a very important part of our daily lives," said Lt. Col. David Swanke, mission commander for the exercise. "Our partners rely on their community support the same way we do at U.S. bases. During our time here, we were treated like part of your community every step of the way. This event was our way of saying thank you for making us feel so welcome."

The mission commander also noted the event was a good way for people from both countries to get familiar with one another.

"When we're working, we're very serious about the tasks at hand," he said. "I think these events are extremely important to show the congenial side of Americans and the U.S. military."

Master Sgt. Scott Ragnone, the event coordinator and first sergeant for the exercise, said he enjoyed the school visit and noted the Group's Airmen enjoyed their visit as much as the children.

"We all had a great time and the children really got to enjoy themselves," he said. "These types of visits make me feel great. They are the highlight of these trips. You can't beat hanging out and playing with the kids and seeing them have a great time."

As the visit came to an end, these special operations airmen and their new friends at the RMAF school were still having fun and didn't want to leave. The first sergeant considered the event a hit, but said he would do one thing different next time.

"I think the event was a huge success," Sergeant Ragnone said. "I hope if we have the opportunity to do this in the future, we schedule more time to spend with the children."