Paying it Forward

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Perla Tapia Cordero
  • 69th Fighter Squadron personnel journeyman and unit public affairs representative
As the holidays approach, often we don't think about those service members who aren't able to spend time with their families.

Around this time four years ago, I was in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.  I won't ever forget that feeling of loneliness I had during that holiday season. Although, I had the privilege of being surrounded by great Wingmen, I still missed my family, friends and especially my son who was two at that time.
On Christmas Eve, I remember our military training instructor brought in a box that was full of personalized Christmas cards that children from a nearby school created.  Who would have known that such a simple gesture would make such a huge impact in my life.
This year, I have decided to pay it forward and give back, but this time to our Luke Airman. We wanted them to know that their sacrifices don't go unnoticed and that our community truly cares.  With help from Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Heng, 944th Medical Squadron medical technician, we were able to collect over 600 personalized Christmas cards for our Luke Airman created by local community members and schools. 

Tech. Sgt. Heng, my accomplice for this project, was a huge part in the success of this endeavor. He emphasized to me that he believes if we don't learn to give back to the younger troops, or "pay it forward," we can't expect them to do the same. Over his 20+ years of service, Tech Sgt. Heng has learned that the Airman currently serving, are the future of this Air Force. It takes us keeping their spirits and morale high.  Airman in today's Air Force need to know what a critical component they are to the success of the Air Force and its mission.
Thanks to the 56th Fighter Wing First Sergeant Council, all the cards were handed out during the holiday season.

Hopefully this will become an annual event and next year get more members of the community involved.