Hurlburt Airmen give holiday cheer

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. William Banton
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
'Tis the season to be jolly; for a group of Hurlburt Field Airmen, the holiday season is also a time to give back to the local community.

"It's definitely important to show the community how much the Air Force cares," said Airman 1st Class Brian Thompson, a bioenvironmental engineering technician with the 1st Special Operations Aerospace Medicine Squadron. "I think sometimes they look at us from the outside-in, and it's nice to get out there and actually talk to them and show them we are just regular people."

Hurlburt Airmen reached out to Air Force retirees, widows and active-duty dependents, bringing holiday cheer by delivering signed holiday cards to the 64 residents of the Air Force Enlisted Village's Hawthorne House, an assisted living community in Shalimar, Fla., Dec. 13.

"I thought what better way to say thank you and reach out to our extended Air Force family who might be lonely during the holidays, here alone without their families," said Airman 1st Class Stefanie Simon, a contracting specialist with the 1st Special Operations Contracting Squadron.

Hard work and planning required Airmen take time out of their busy schedules and spend their lunch breaks to help collect 500 individual signatures from base personnel including from Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, civilians and children from the base child development center.

"To see something go from concept to execution to actual delivery just warmed my heart," said Senior Airman Joe McFadden, president of Airman's Voice, an organization that advocates on behalf of more than 2,400 Hurlburt Field Airmen. "I'm honored this was one of our organization's first projects."

For the select few Airmen who were able to deliver the cards to residents of the Hawthorne House, the reward was in the expressions of those they helped.

"To be part of that giving, what you receive from that was that awesome smile on their faces when you give them that card and they say 'Oh what's this?'" said Airman 1st Class Brandy Dirr, secretary for Airman's Voice. "'It's a gift from Hurlburt Field Airmen to you.'"

In the end, these Hurlburt Airmen set out to help those who paved the way before them.

"I think these men and women are part of our Air Force history and heritage, and they've enabled us to be in the position we are now to defend our country," Simon said. "Without them and their contributions, we wouldn't be here so it's important not to forget where we come from."