Pay it forward

  • Published
  • By Maj. Corey Gibbs
  • 35th Comptroller Squadron commander
As the year begins and I reflect back on what we here at Misawa have been through last year, I must say I'm extremely proud to be an American Airman.

To me, the thing that sticks out most is how giving we are to those around us. Everywhere I turn I see someone volunteering to help those in need.

I had the great honor of leading a Misawa Helps team of 20 volunteers down to Rikuzentaka, Japan two months ago. We took three vehicles and shovels and rakes. It took about five hours for our little convoy to get there.

I couldn't believe how much construction was still apparent. The team of volunteers spent about five hours digging out drainage ditches next to a closed business. The business owner had hopes of reopening but was having flooding issues because all the drains were full of mud and debris.

The ditches were about five feet deep and filled with mud and rocks. Their consistency reminded me of wet concrete. Every third of fourth foot, we would run into concrete blocks that weighted up to 250 pounds each. The team ended up pulling about 10 of those out of the ditches. Can you say sore back? This was back-breaking work, and every volunteer spent every second shoveling. I take that back; we did take a 30-minute rest for lunch.

I was extremely honored to make this trip and very impressed with how hard everyone worked that day.

Recently as I was watching the news, a story really hit home with me.

In the United States, there is a "pay it forward" movement spreading across the country. People went to the layaway sections of Wal-Marts and K-Marts and paid off the remaining balance of random strangers' holiday gifts. When the families came in to pay off their accounts, they got a great surprise.

Thank you all for all that you give. I'm so lucky to be part of the greatest nation in the world, and I can't wait to find the next way I can "pay it forward."