KORAT, Thailand -- Airmen from the United States, Thailand, and Singapore visited a local school as part of a cultural exchange during Exercise COPE Tiger 2019 at Korat, Thailand, March 13, 2019.
The U.S. Air Force, Republic of Singapore air force and Royal Thai air force are participating in a large force air employment exercise aimed at strengthening interoperability in the Indo-Pacific but together stepped off the flightline to strengthen the relationship with the local Thai community hosting them.
Students at the Ban PaLai School greeted the COPE Tiger exercise directors and Airman representatives with greetings in both Thai and English:
“Teachers and students would like to welcome and pay honor and respect…to the officers for military exercise COPE Tiger 2019...for supporting humanities education significantly for our school,” said one presenting student.
After the welcoming comments, the exercise directors of the three services presented the school with donations of books, school supplies, sports equipment and a dishwashing system.
Before being gifted the system, the students would have to leave their dirty dishes outside and allow the rain or dew to wash off their eating trays overnight. Now, they will have clean plateware, no matter the weather.
“Meeting the needs of the kids of this region is incredibly rewarding,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Shannon Smith, COPE Tiger exercise director and deployed forces commander. “The Korat community has hosted COPE Tiger for decades, and we’re glad to be able to provide a piece of equipment that will enhance these students’ quality of life for many years.”
After the donation presentation, the exercise directors served the Ban PaLai students lunch, and the airmen from each of the three services partnered with the kids in a team-building competition and danced to the Royal Thai Air Force Band together.
Senior Airman Jessica Ho, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew member, expressed that it was an eye-opening overall learning experience and a part of this TDY she will cherish.
“I really enjoyed meeting the children and sharing in their culture,” she said. “Interacting with the Thai and Singaporean Airmen added to the community outreach program. It shows how three vastly different countries come together as one for the common greater good.”