Military News

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thule Airmen receive support from Illinois elementary school

by Tech. Sgt. Jared Marquis
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

12/8/2015 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland  -- Holidays can be a difficult time for the Airmen stationed 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. They are separated from family and have limited resources with which to celebrate. While they do have a tight knit community to depend on, a little help can go a long way. This year's help came in the form of 50 care packages courtesy of Northview School in Peru, Illinois.

The 821st Air Base Group leadership team received a request in early September from the elementary school asking if the kids could send the Airmen care packages for the holidays, said Master Sgt. James Morgan, 821st ABG first sergeant.

"I called them back that day and told them we would be grateful for the packages," said Morgan.

Fast forward a couple months and the first half of the care packages arrived Nov. 19, the week before Thanksgiving. Since they only get a weekly rotator flight to Thule, they had to wait for the second half to show up, and were grateful for the supplies.

"The kids did a phenomenal job with the boxes," said Morgan, who set up his office like a shopping center with the supplies and gave Airmen the opportunity to pick out what they wanted.

The boxes included baking supplies, cold weather supplies, personal care products and more. Some of the most popular items were the cake mixes and other baking supplies. These are the types of items the Airmen can't get at Thule.

"Our Base Exchange carries a lot of snack foods, but not much in the way of baking supplies," said Morgan. "The Airmen have kitchens in their room, so everyone benefited from the baking supplies. Those who like to bake were able to and shared with those who don't."

"These children may not comprehend what it means to receive something as simple as a box of cake mix, but to us it turns a cold winter day with no sunlight into a warm tangible holiday celebration," said Tech. Sgt. Monique Wright, 821st ABG chief of safety. "The children also wrote us letters; thanking us for our service and having curious minds, asked several questions.  As I read these letters tears welled up in my eyes and I thought to myself how wonderful for these children to give to complete strangers without a second thought."

To say thank you for the supplies, the Airmen participated in a Skype call with the school children Dec. 2. Morgan said the entire school packed into the auditorium while nearly 100 Thule Airmen showed up for the call.

"That shows the appreciation," said Morgan. "We only have about 160 Airmen here and the only ones who didn't participate in the call were those who were working, or on a mid-shift."

During the Skype call, Col. Stuart Pettis, 821st ABG commander, thanked the children for the care packages and then gave the kids the opportunity to ask the Airmen some questions.

"He called up a different Airman each time to answer the kid's questions," said Morgan.

The kids asked questions about the weather, the radar and if the Airmen had seen Santa (the right answer, according to the teachers, is "you haven't seen Santa, but Santa is watching them!")

The call lasted about thirty minutes and ended with the children singing God Bless America and We Wish you a Merry Christmas.

"It was phenomenal for the Airmen to be able to share their gratitude with the kids," said Morgan. "It really was an awesome experience."

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