Cope Tiger participants visit local school in Thailand

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Hailey Haux
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force service members visited students at Ban Krok Duan Ha School, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand for a community relations event, March 21.

The event was part of Exercise Cope Tiger 2024 which is an annual trilateral aerial exercise meant to enhance readiness and further develop interoperability.

“This is my first time to Thailand, and I have been incredibly impressed by the hospitality and culture of the Thai people,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jeffrey Shulman, Cope Tiger 24 exercise director, during the ceremony. “It’s not about the airplanes we fly here, it’s about the people and relationships. I know the engagement that we have here in the community and getting to serve our countries together will make our nations stronger.”

After the ceremony, Shulman joined the exercise directors from the Royal Thai Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force in a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new facility on the school campus, planted seeds in the garden, toured the school and served lunch to the students.

As part of the school visit, Airmen participated in various local games such as relay races, ball tosses and a competitive game of rock, paper, scissors.

“We got to do a bunch of goofy things with the students which was really fun,” said Senior Airman Jack Mitchell, 356th Fighter Generation Squadron crew chief. “Even with the language barriers, we were still able to play these games and learn new things too. Relations with other countries are very important and being here at a local school seeing how all these students look up to you as a person in uniform is very special and humbling.”

While the ceremony and games were taking place with the students, medical professionals from the Royal Thai Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force rendered care to locals with support from the U.S. Air Force medical team.

“Joint health initiatives are so important,” said Lt. Col. Kendall Vermilion, 35th Fighter Squadron flight surgeon. “These events foster a sense of unity and cohesion, demonstrating a collective commitment to health and wellness, and play a critical role in building partnerships amongst our military communities.”

Cope Tiger, in its 28th iteration, runs through March 29. This year marks the first time 5th generation aircraft are taking part, bringing in eight F-35A Lightning IIs from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska who joined ten F-16C Fighting Falcons from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea and two KC-135 Stratotankers from the Washington Air National Guard.