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MSAS air advisors, Colombian Airmen visit Colombian orphanage

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lesley Waters
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs
One week into their month-long Air Mobility Command Building Partner Capacity mission, members of the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy and 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), as well as the military group partnered with members of the Colombian air force and visited an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia, June 9.

The BPC mission is to build stronger international air force cooperation, interoperability and mutual support. One way the MSAS Airmen, based out of Travis AFB, Calif., are doing this is by supporting the Colombian air force as they prepare for their first participation in this year's Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., July 16-27. In addition, the mission supports the 12th Air Force's (Air Forces Southern) continued engagements in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility of Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Being able to participate in a (BPC) mission has been a great experience," said Tech. Sgt. Melvin Rosario, IAAFA instructor, 318th Training Squadron, Lackland AFB, Texas. "Our militaries' future successes not only rest on us working side-by-side exchanging ideas in seminars or on the flight line and supporting our PN (partner nation) get ready for Red Flag, it also includes visiting the orphanage and helping plant a positive seed in the minds of the Colombian youth."

The Colombian and U.S. Airmen planted that positive seed by distributing donated children's clothes, shoes, toys, soccer balls and jelly beans to nearly 30 children at Asociación Amigos del Niño Ayudame.

Asociación Amigos del Niño Ayudame is an orphanage for children who have been physically or mentally abused.

"It was a pleasure to have the soldiers (Airmen) visit us," said Maria Clemencia Marquez Gutierrez, Asociación Amigos del Niño Ayudame president and legal representative. "You could see the excitement in each of the children as you arrived and played with them. Even though they were busy, they took time to spend it with us and I know the children will not forget this day."

The children cheered and greeted each of the Airmen as they entered the room. The children were especially excited when they received a special guest appearance from "Capitan Paz" (Captain Peace), the Colombian air force mascot. He walked around saluting and hugging each one of the children. He even tossed a soccer ball back and forth with several of the children.

After handing out the toys, the Colombian and U.S. Airmen spent some quality one-on-one time with each of the children, reading books, coloring, kicking the soccer ball, laughing, eating jelly beans, or simply sitting on the floor talking.

Before leaving the orphanage, the Airmen bought pizzas and soda and had lunch with the children. As the Colombian and U.S. air force Airmen said their good-byes and 'thank yous,' the children returned the favors with hugs and smiles.

"The generous support we receive from those who donate items for the BPC missions enables the MSAS to build relationships with our fellow Airmen and their community," said Lt. Col. Gabe Griess, 571st MSAS director of operations. "A successful BPC mission enables our partner nation to better execute their national priorities. There are few better ways to influence tomorrow than to work with children today."

Being able to work side-by-side with the Colombian air force and interact with the children was just another forum to exchange ideas and allow the children to see that Airmen are human after all.