Service Members Make a Difference to Thai Children

Service Members Make a Difference to Thai Children

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gregory D. Hill, an Marine Corps Community Services officer attached to Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, teaches Ban Nong Lan Chang School students English during a visit from U.S. and Thai service members. Photo by LCpl Mandaline Hatch.

ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE KORAT, Kingdom of Thailand (Feb. 17, 2015) — U.S. and Thai service members participating in Exercise Cobra Gold 2015 spend the day with students at Ban Nong Lan Chang School, Feb. 17. 

Ten Royal Thai Air Force members along with 11 local civilians, and 45 U.S. Marines and Sailors volunteered to teach students English and participate in different games and activities.

This event was one of the many community outreach events that took place during Cobra Gold, which has an increased focus on Humanitarian Civic Action, community engagement, and medical activities this year to support the needs and humanitarian interests of civilian populations around the region.

"We want to know what your purpose is and what you like to do here?" said Pastor Prasarn Charoensuk, a Korat, Thailand, native. "How your training affects our living, like the plane makes a lot of noise and also, many of you moving around."

Loud, zooming jets are an inevitable result of the bi-lateral training taking place between U.S. Marine and RTAF pilots during Cobra Gold. The training exercise increases cooperation, interoperability, and collaboration among partner nations in order to achieve effective solutions to common challenges.

While it is important for the community to understand why the Marines are here, it is just as important for Marines to understand the local Thai community.

"It's a great opportunity to understand the Thai culture and (for U.S. service members) to know the community," said Charoensuk.

Around 200 community members and 134 students welcomed the service members with open arms and excitement in their eyes. 

"I came out on this COMREL to volunteer my time to the children and play with them, because they don't get to play like this very often with foreign people," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Rebecca Hurst, a Victorville, California, native, and corpsman with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. 

After an English lesson, service members, students, and teachers went outside for a well-deserved play-time filled with sack races, eating contests, and much more. 

"The children really exciting," said Charoensuk. "This is their first time to meet a lot of foreigners, especially the Marines have done a great job mixing with them and teaching them English."

Thai and U.S. service members have been hand- in- hand throughout the exercise and building a relationship along the way. Spending time at the school together helps strengthen that bond. 

"This is a good opportunity (for) the school to meet many of you," said Charoensuk.

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