ARLINGTON, Va., - The Air National Guard’s Building Partnerships cell wants to build off of last year’s successful airlift of traditional holiday care packages to Polish and international troops deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Last November, the Air Force’s International Affairs office contacted the cell with a dilemma, said Air Force Lt. Col. David Palmer, the chief of the partnership cell.
The office was working with the American Polish Forum (APF) of Washington, D.C., to deliver traditional holiday care packages, which included American and Polish sweets, hand-written cards and “optatek,” a traditional Polish Christmas wafer.
“The issue was, they had little funding and they were running out of time,” Palmer said.
After making several attempts to find someone to ship these goods, a commercial carrier stepped up and airlifted the goods from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to Ramstein AFB in Germany, he said.
Once they reached Germany, U.S. Air Forces Europe handled the delivery of the packages to troops in Bagram. They were delivered just before the New Year.
“We had a never give up attitude,” Palmer said. “We could have dropped it and walked away, but we didn’t.”
This year, the Building Partnership cell is being proactive with this project.
“We are working with the APF already to ensure that we can find the right sponsorship that will allow us to deliver these goods to the troops fighting with us,” said Palmer. “I just feel that we are doing something to pay them back for their sacrifice.”
The Air National Guard is helping to develop a new Air Force service core function that focuses on building international relationships that may prevent future conflicts.