Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!
6 May 2007
A fine way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo; with another successful drop. My day today began at the break of dawn. My mission was to transport passengers to another base and have them there 8:00 am. Its an hour trip so we had to leave at 7:00 am. To get our briefings, paperwork and equipment ready, we arrive two hours before takeoff to prep our gear. An early morning makes for a very long day and our day didn’t end until some 12 hours later. Sometime during the mission I realized I had time to land back at our base and get the soccer from Penny and a few more balls from the Graham family. We used two helicopters for our mission today so I had the bright idea to send the balls with the other aircraft and take photos from mine. Since I was going to be actually flying, I gave the camera to my door gunner to take the pictures. However, as soon as I gave him the camera, the darn battery went dead. I couldn’t believe it, I have the best opportunity to take some really good pictures and my battery is bone dry. Luckily, I had a back up plan. I had another camera from one of the other pilots with me. We used that camera to take the pictures that you see. The back up camera isn’t as fast as the one I have so some of the pictures didn’t come out as well as I hoped. The good news is that I did get some decent shots and you can clearly see the crew members in the other helicopter getting ready to throw the balls down to the kids.
There was a great deal of excitement with the kids below. In this particular area there’s a section against some small foothills that we use for a firing range to test fire our machine guns. As we shoot, the bullet casings fall from the helicopter to the ground. We call the bullet casings “brass” because, well, they’re made of brass. When the brass falls, all the kids from the neighboring village come running to collect it. The kids then take the brass and turn it in for money. Rumor has it that they can fetch up to $7.00 a pound for the brass that they collect. Around here, that’s a lot of money. Imagine their surprise that after we were done shooting and they were busily collecting up the brass, we started to drop soccer balls! I truly think that some of the kids didn’t know what to do…pick up brass? Run after soccer balls? It was a mad frenzy (in a good way).
We are all blessed. The kids with the balls are blessed. You are blessed for sending them. I’m very blessed to be a part of this and to see it first hand. We are all blessed as Americans to be able to afford such simple luxuries as a soccer ball. I get upset if my steak isn’t cooked right at a restaurant and the folks around here are happy to get a small bag of Doritos when they come in to our clinic on the base. I’m so very blessed to see the smiles and excited faces of the kids that go running after the balls that all of YOU sent. Thank you so very much. Your generosity has made a huge impact on others that you don’t even know. The children who end up with these balls won’t ever know you, they’ll never see a picture of who you are, they can’t even thank you, but I will. I will thank you for making the effort to get these wonderful gifts and sending it thousands of miles across the world to share your good fortune with those you don’t know. There’s a lesson in here somewhere isn’t it? Can you see it? I can.
Thank you everyone. In the most sincere way I know to say it….THANK YOU!