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U.S. and Chilean Airmen visit school during SALITRE

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Master Sgt. Vincent Jones, 161st Air Refueling Wing boom operator, hands out candy to sixth-grade students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, during a joint U.S.-Fuerza Aerea de Chile visit to the school Oct 27.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Master Sgt. Vincent Jones, 161st Air Refueling Wing boom operator, hands out candy to sixth-grade students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, during a joint U.S.-Fuerza Aerea de Chile visit to the school Oct 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile perform a traditional dance recital Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile perform a traditional dance recital Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Maj. Jeremy Lopes, 161st Air Refueling Wing pilot, helps students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, construct model airplaces during a joint U.S.-FACh visit.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Maj. Jeremy Lopes, 161st Air Refueling Wing pilot, helps students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, construct model airplaces during a joint U.S.-FACh visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Evelyn Martens of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile welcomes Maj. Quinn Casey Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Evelyn Martens of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile welcomes Maj. Quinn Casey Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Maj. Jeremy Lopes (middle right) and Tech. Sgt. Johnny Narro of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, pose for a photo with students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Maj. Jeremy Lopes (middle right) and Tech. Sgt. Johnny Narro of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, pose for a photo with students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Patricia Vidal of the Fuerza Aerea de Chile talks to students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, during a joint U.S.-FACh visit.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Patricia Vidal of the Fuerza Aerea de Chile talks to students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, during a joint U.S.-FACh visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile prepare for a traditional dance recital Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile prepare for a traditional dance recital Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- A sixth-grade student of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, proudly displays his completed model airplane and a 161st Air Refueling Wing patch during a joint U.S.-Fuerza Aerea de Chile visit to the school Oct 27.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- A sixth-grade student of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, proudly displays his completed model airplane and a 161st Air Refueling Wing patch during a joint U.S.-Fuerza Aerea de Chile visit to the school Oct 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Maj. Quinn Casey, 161st Air Refueling Wing pilot, helps sixth-grade students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, construct model airplanes during a joint U.S.-Fuerza Aerea de Chile visit to the school Oct 27.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Maj. Quinn Casey, 161st Air Refueling Wing pilot, helps sixth-grade students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile, construct model airplanes during a joint U.S.-Fuerza Aerea de Chile visit to the school Oct 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- Students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile perform a song Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)
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IQUIQUE, Chile -- Students of Colegio Macaya in Alto Hospicia, Chile perform a song Oct. 27 as part of a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. and Chilean Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky)

IQUIQUE, Chile -- U.S. and Fuerza Aerea de Chile (FACh) Airmen visited an elementary school in Alto Hospicia, Chile Oct. 27 during SALITRE, a multinational exercise focused on interoperability between Chile, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and France.

More than 100 children welcomed the Airmen, shyly saying "Hi" or "Hola", shaking hands, smiling and asking to take photos. The administration organized a song recital by the school choir, as well as a traditional dance number also performed by students.

The school had been preparing for the visit for weeks, said teacher Evelyn Martens.

"It was very interesting watching the students prepare," she said. "We had to choose students who would perform, and they were all jumping around, screaming. They are as happy as they can be."

Community Relations projects like this is nothing new to members of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, an Arizona Air National Guard tanker unit out of Phoenix. In the last four years, they have deployed to a number of exercises and air shows in Chile, each time taking a little time out of the busy flying schedule to say "thank you" to the local community.

Alongside their FACh counterparts, they matched the children smile-for-smile, and even brought along model airplane kits and candy to give away.

"Chile and the U.S. have such a strong partnership that extending a friendly hand to the local community with them just makes sense," said Maj. Jeremy Lopes, 161st ARW KC-135 pilot. "It's great to see the kids react to us being here too. These visits are always a lot of fun for everyone. It's the very least we can do to say 'thank you' to such accommodating hosts."

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