3rd CAB follows through on promise
Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Campbell (left), chaplain for Task Force Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, meets Deputy Minister of Education Mr. Sharafi (right) and his interpreter at Camp Kiwi, Bamyan, Afghanistan, May 10.

<b>BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan </b>- In January, Soldiers flew through negative degree weather landing in Camp Kiwi, Bamyan, Afghanistan to drop off school supplies for local children.

After talking with the children at Bamyan, the Soldiers from Company A, Task Force Knighthawk, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon, made a promise to return with more supplies to help the community teach their children.

On a flight through warmer weather, the Soldiers returned to fulfill their promise, May 10.

"The need was there - they have limited school supplies out where they are and limited resources to bring the supplies to them," said Spc. Sean Noonan, A Co., TF Knighthawk. "I hoped that (our unit) would be able to facilitate bringing them more supplies. I didn't think we were going to be able to help all of the students, but I wanted to at least help."

The mission to bring school supplies to Bamyan began when a child threw a rock at Sgt. Matthew West, crew chief with A Co., TF Knighthawk, during a stop at Bamyan. The rock had a note attached explaining the child taught an English class in Bamyan and requested school supplies to be able to continue teaching.

"West got hit with the rock in November and in January we went back with the supplies we gathered during that time," said Spc. Noonan. "We donated the supplies and found out the need was much more than we anticipated. We learned the Bamyan province had 4,000 students and the supplies that we brought weren't going to last more than a week. So we initiated another mission to help accommodate the amount of students they had there."

Specialist Noonan reached out to friends and Family, who then in turn worked with their churches and other local organizations to gather and send supplies to Afghanistan with some organizations sending as much as 900 pounds. Once the supplies arrived here they were collected, stored in boxes and weighed out in preparation for the mission. In addition, Spc. Noonan created flyers that were posted around Bagram Airfield requesting for school supplies.

"Captain (Penny) Cromwell (the signal officer) brought me the flyer, and I called and got in contact with Spc. Noonan and it went on from there," said Spc. Katie Starkey, Headquarters and Support Company, TF ODIN-A (Observe, Detect, Identify, Neutralize-Afghanistan), TF Falcon. "I put it on the TF ODIN-A newsletter and tried to get as much support as possible."

"It was such a ground-roots effort," said Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Campbell, chaplain for TF Knighthawk, who also worked on the mission. "We had people from different battalions and different services who participated and donated and really wanted to see good things happen for the Afghan people. I really saw an excitement in the Soldiers just to be able to have another way to help out in a way other than fighting."

Unlike their first flight in January, which consisted of two Black Hawks, one carrying boxes, their return trip consisted of a flight of one Black Hawk with boxes in addition to a Chinook filled with 2,100 pounds of supplies donated from throughout TF Falcon.

The two aircraft landed at Camp Kiwi and the Soldiers got out and met with Padre Leon O'Flynn, chaplain with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team at Camp Kiwi. During the last mission, the Soldiers simply passed on the supplies to O'Flynn; however by the time this mission was launched O'Flynn was redeployed. The Soldiers then met with Padre Kevin Brophy, the new chaplain for the New Zealand PRT, who coordinated a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Education Sharafi, who was there to accept the donations.

"It was a key component to deliver the supplies to the leaders and not directly to the children," said Chap. Campbell. "We wanted the leaders themselves to present the supplies to them in order to build the confidence of the local Afghans in their leadership. We wanted the supplies to be seen as coming from them and not from U.S. Soldiers."

With supplies still in route, postponed by the Iceland volcano, another mission is in the works once supplies have been gathered, this time including the Afghan National Army soldiers.

"I'm trying to get the ANA involved because we want them to be the ones giving back to their own people to help build trust," said Spc. Noonan. "We want to transition ourselves out of this for future missions."

For those who would like to donate items, please send to:
Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Campbell
HHC TF Knighthawk
APO AE 09354

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16