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AFSOUTH delivers cookies, holiday cheer to forward operating locations

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Wade Johnson, Command Chief for 12th Air Force, delivers cookies to servicemembers from Joint Task Force-Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, Dec. 11.  Chief Johnson came with the ?Cookie Caper? morale mission, which allowed 12th Air Force leaders to visit with deployed servicemembers prior to the holidays. The team delivered more than 9,000 cookies to Honduras, the Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Wade Johnson, Command Chief for 12th Air Force, delivers cookies to servicemembers from Joint Task Force-Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, Dec. 11. Chief Johnson came with the ?Cookie Caper? morale mission, which allowed 12th Air Force leaders to visit with deployed servicemembers prior to the holidays. The team delivered more than 9,000 cookies to Honduras, the Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL STATION, Cuba -- Twelfth Air Force and Air Forces Southern's leadership were here Dec. 13 on a week-long visit to bring holiday cheers to more than 850 U.S. Airmen deployed to Central, South America and the Caribbean.

The annual event, dubbed the "Cookie Caper," allows the command's leadership to visit Airmen and personally deliver batches of cookies donated by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Tucson community.

"Being here with our Airmen during this time of year, when they are away from their families, is a priority for 12th Air Force," said Brig. Gen. Joseph Mudd, Vice Commander, 12th AF/AFSOUTH. "We can never thank them enough for the great work they do here in the region."

General Mudd and Chief Master Sgt. Wade Johnson, the 12th AF/ AFSOUTH command chief, on their fourth stop in five days, arrived via an HC-130 Hercules, packed with over 800 dozen of cookies, brownies and school supplies for local orphans.

A good chunk of the cookies and school supplies were donated by the Tucson community, with the help and coordination of the "DM-50," a group of local civic and business leaders who routinely support Davis-Monthan AFB.

The cookies were the main attraction, and General Mudd quickly thanked the Airmen and invited them to partake in the extra calories.

For Airman 1st Class James Short, an aviation resource manager deployed to Puerto Rico from Maxwell AFB, Ala., the cookies were a welcome taste of home.

"I enjoyed the cookies, and it means a lot to know we're appreciated and it gives us a feeling of home," he said, noting that homemade chocolate chip cookies were his favorite.

For those without a sweet tooth, the mission also brought a treat for the funny bone. The team brought along celebrity comedian Scott Kennedy who is part of a current United Service Organizations (USO) tour entertaining servicemembers deployed throughout the region during the holidays.

"The military guys (and gals) really appreciate when you take the time to visit," Mr. Kennedy said. "I think about you guys every day, and it reminds me that you are out here keeping me safe so I can tell my jokes back home. You guys are heroes and it's an honor to stand up in front of you to bring a little bit of home."

The comedian has performed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan 10 times during the past three years, and was also a guest of last year's "Cookie Caper" mission. During his show, Mr. Kennedy talked about his tours of duty, with the most recent being a Thanksgiving show in Iraq.

This is the last stop for the general and chief. They also visited Airmen at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, the Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.

The 12th AF/AFSOUTH mission varies from location to location, but a large portion of their mission involves drug interdiction, comprehensive dental, medical care and robust construction projects for underserved communities in the region.

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