News>Osan’s fighter squadron gives back to Singapore
1st Lt. James Byrd and his wife, Melissa, along with 1st Lt. Jacob Bass, and Capt. Eric Emerson helped sell donated food items on White Cane Day in Singapore, Oct. 13, 2012. Airmen from the 36th Fighter Squadron teamed up with the local community in Singapore to raise money and volunteer time to support the visually handicapped during their off-time from combined exercise Commando Sling. Byrd is the 36th FS mission planning officer, Bass is the 36th FS assistant chief of plans, and Emerson is the 36th FS daily scheduler. (Courtesy photo)
The 36th Fighter Squadron ‘Fiends’ pose for a photo with the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped, Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home, and Blind Faith, Oct. 13, 2012, while volunteering with the local Singapore community on White Cane Day. (Courtesy photo)
Staff Sgt. Anou Souvannavong, 51st Maintenance Squadron F-16 sheet metal specialist, served as a role model during his time at the game station during White Cane Day in the Republic of Singapore, Oct. 13, 2012. Airmen from the 36th Fighter Squadron teamed up with the local community in Singapore to raise money and volunteer time to support the visually handicapped during their off-time from combined exercise Commando Sling. (Courtesy photo)
Senior Airman Mark Morris, F-16 crew chief with the 36th Fighter Squadron, learned to produce animal balloons for attendees of the Republic of Singapore White Cane Day carnival Oct. 13, 2012. Airmen from the 36th FS raised $9,000 in support of the visually handicapped while in Singapore for exercise Commando Sling. (Courtesy photo)
by Lt. Col. Jack Harman
51st Fighter Wing Chief of Safety
10/22/2012 - Paya Lebar Republic of Singapore Air Base -- Airmen from the 36th Fighter Squadron, from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, teamed up with the Republic of Singapore for a combined exercise designed to sharpen air combat skills, but also found time on the ground to raise more than $9,000 for the visually handicapped Oct. 13, 2012.
The 36th FS is currently deployed to Paya Lebar Republic of Singapore Air Base to participate in Exercise Commando Sling, an annual training exercise for U.S. and Republic of Singapore Air Force units that improve operations at non-U.S. bases, and promote closer relations between U.S. Air Force and RSAF Airmen.
However, when not participating in the exercise, Osan Airmen dedicated time to raise money and build relationships with the local community, explained Lt. Col. Jason Cockrum, 36th FS commander. Guided by team leaders, Senior Airman Candice Griffin, Staff Sgt. Trevor Bell and Airman 1st Class Mark Morris, the 'Fiends' were able to work with the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped, the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home, and Blind Faith during International White Cane Day to raise money and strengthen the relationships with the country.
"Forty-three U.S. military members volunteered 336 hours to the event," said Harman, the 36th FS event organizer. "However, the true measure of the 36th FS contribution rests not in the numbers, but in the connections made between service members and local citizens. Squadron members assisted visually handicapped persons, assisted with game stalls, and created balloon sculptures with children from the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home."
White Cane Day is an annual international event honoring the spirit of those who are blind or have limited vision. Singapore celebrated the event with a carnival and festivities that included singing, entertainment, game stalls, balloon animals, as well as the sale of handicrafts and plants.
Squadron members also participated in activities designed to increase visually impaired awareness, directed traffic, assisted in sales and clean-up post festivities, Harman explained. Capt. Tyler Smith, Staff Sgt. Cody Martin, and Senior Airman Josh Frye assisted visually handicapped persons and served as excellent U.S. Air Force role models. Airman 1st Class Mark Morris and Senior Airman Francisco Lara created balloon sculptures alongside disadvantaged children from the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home.
"The mission of the 36th Fighter Squadron, whether at home with our Korean allies or deployed to enhance our partnership with Singapore, is to support United States objectives with military means," Harman explained. "Occasionally, this translates to military members utilizing their free time to interact with the local population. For the 36th FS, that interaction led to an improved understanding of the Singapore community, greater appreciation for our visually handicapped and strengthened relations with a strategic partner."
"We had an amazing experience here," said Cockrum. "The Fiends even brought a taste of America to the event with donated muffins, apples, and Texas chicken."