By Senior Master Sgt. Cheryl L. Toner, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 18, 2007
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
As ironic as this may be, public affairs people tend to get a little jaded when answering phone calls, letters and e-mails from the public. It is our job to work with the public, obviously; however, talking to citizens who think their phones are bugged by the FBI, have seen an F-18 land in the stratosphere, or are convinced that the government is sending subliminal messages through their microwave oven, well, come on, that's pretty humorous. Even here, we get at least one phone call daily from a local citizen who literally screams at us and drops "f-bombs" left and right because she hates the noise from the aircraft.
But once in awhile, we get some really cool stuff. This week our office received 5,000 letters from people across the U.S. The driver for producing the letters was the Atlanta radio station, Q100, on "The Bert Show." Most of the letters came from school children in the Atlanta area; however, many came from people across the U.S.
Since most of the letters aren't in envelopes, we decided to cruise through them and see what the kids had to say. Our reactions ranged from laughter to, "Awww, that's so sweet!" While we're distributing the letters to the wing, we wanted to share bits and pieces from some of the letters. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
News & questions
Some of the kids were apparently told or under the impression that we're in a technology void and therefore don't have access to the latest news. Mitchell R., who started his letter out with "Dear Brave Soul," wrote that he hopes we're OK, and then talks about current events. "You are probably wondering what's going on here," he wrote. "Well, if you haven't heard, Michael Vick of the Falcons is off the team for dog fighting. Sad, hu. Lindsey Lohan was in rehab ... she's out now and trying to get her act together. George Clooney might settle down with his latest girlfriend, but we'll see." On a personal level, I'm not happy about the George Clooney news.
Along the same vein, a young lady wanted us to check out the leprechaun sighting on youtube. She also said, "Brittany Spears is cracked out and Kanye West's and Rascall Flatts CD's are at the top of the charts. The Patriots are unstoppable and Boston is up 2-0 in the World Series." Good to know.
Young Joshua from Georgia wants to know if we had to learn a new language, if we fight for the president and if we have to stay and fight on the holidays. Jennifer wants to know how many and what type of guns we own. Allison, bless her heart, wants to know when we were drafted.
Amanda wants to know if we know her dad - he's a major - and she wanted to thank us for our "services." Since her note was addressed to "Any Soldier," she also decided to guess the name of the person reading her note - Bob, Tom, Jerry, Josh, Dean, Matt, Max, and if that's not it, "sorry." She also didn't guess any "foreign" names because she doesn't know any.
Kalie wanted to know if we have phones.
Most letter-writers provided some personal information - from what their favorite color is to the names of their relatives who are currently deployed. Karen from Georgia wanted us to know that she dressed up as a Drama Queen for Halloween. A seventh-grader from Armnchee, Georgia, wants to go in the military someday so he can drive a HMMVV and shoot guns.
A young lady named Destinie said her mother bought "Fight for your Troops" bracelets and said she won't take it off until all the troops come home.
Megan has three relatives in the Army and wants us to "Kill all of the bad guys and bring them home."
Jokes & praise
OK, you have to have seen "real" commercials to get this one. "What are the sexiest farm animals? Brown chicken, brown cow!" (Reference the recent Axe commercial.) If you've seen the commercial, this is pretty funny. If you haven't seen the commercial, say "brown chicken brown cow" fast and out loud.
Steven's joke: "What kind of animal works for the military? Navy Seal."
Jasean, wanted to thank us "for saving the country from Sabom Uhsan." That's OK Jasean, we all had a hard time learning how to spell his name. We were also relieved to know that he's not related to Barack Obama.
A fourth-grader wanted to know if being a soldier was fun and he also wanted to thank us for protecting "us from harm and poor and homeless people." We know he means well.
A 12-year-old wanted to reassure us that people in the U.S. think about us all the time. "It might be helpful to know we care about you ... we really don't like our language arts teacher, but we care about you." We rock!
Briana hoped that we got "some sort" of turkey on Thanksgiving.
Deloris, an 80-year-old woman whose husband served in WWII, as well as the China, India, Burma area, thanked us and wished us happy holidays.
A teacher at the Lovin Elementary School wrote a note for a student who just came from Mexico. "She couldn't write a letter in English but she wanted to participate when our class wrote letters."
Pam from Ohio wanted to assure us that people support the military, despite the news being "mostly negative."
While most of the letters were written for "soldiers" who are deployed, the intent of the program was to write a letter for the estimated 400,000 people who are serving overseas. Regardless of whether or not you've deployed, or if you've been in the military for two months or 20 years, the amount of time and the comments from American citizens is amazing.
After all, military people usually think, "Hey, I'm just doing my job." But we all know that not everyone is fit to serve and that it does take a little something more to willingly leave your family either in the states or when you deploy. Knowing that, once in awhile it's nice to hear it from someone who couldn't imagine doing your job.
If you would like to respond to one of the letters, they are in a rack at the base post office.