Kabul Airman brings gifts, smiles to local children

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Trevor Tiernan
  • U.S. Central Command Air Forces Combat Correspondent Team
Thanks to the efforts of an Airman deployed to Kabul International Airport and supporters back in the United States, 47 local youth soccer players are now a little better equipped.

Master Sgt. William Whitt, a fuels mentor with the Air Corps Advisors Group here, worked with his wife, Lea-Ellen Whitt, back at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., and members of the local community there to obtain soccer uniforms and equipment for the team.

He said the idea came about after the team's coach, an interpreter working with the Airmen here, mentioned it to Sergeant Whitt's roommate.

"I contacted my wife and asked her to ask in the local community around Arnold AFB," he said. "We got a lot of help from the folks in the Tullahoma and Manchester, Tenn., areas."

But the ball really began rolling when Sergeant Whitt's wife told a friend's husband, John Wachter, what they were trying to do.

He (Mr. Wachter) decided he wanted to take this on, so he coordinated with a company out of California called SoccerOne and basically got everything for these kids at cost, which was around $4,000, Mrs. Whitt said. 

As the children lined up Oct. 22, they each received a backpack containing a brand new soccer uniform and a soccer ball from Sergeant Whitt and the other Airmen who had offered to head outside the wire to pass out the gear. 

He also handed out goalkeeper uniforms, refereeing equipment, cones, flags, ball pumps and more to the coach.

"Everything you can imagine that you would need for a soccer game," said Sergeant Whitt.

Along with all the work the members of the ACAG do with the Afghan National Army Air Corps here, Sergeant Whitt feels that getting involved in the local community like this, is equally important.

"This is all part of winning hearts and minds," he said. "The military operations, and the mentoring and training that we do here are good things and we're on the right path. But getting the local populace on our side with things like this, where we help the community -- you can't go wrong."

After handing out all the equipment and stopping for photographs with the children, Sergeant Whitt was pleased with the result and that he had been a part of brightening a few children's lives.

"They were just happy to get something," he said. "The smiles are all the reward you really need. It sounds cliche, but the reality is a lot of these kids don't really have anything.

"I think everyone of them was as ecstatic as they could be. They were genuinely appreciative of what we gave them." 

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