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1st Marine Aircraft Wing Marines visit Thai school during Cobra Gold 2011

By Cpl. J Nava | | February 4, 2011

U.S. Marines and sailors from 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, visited the Panyoonnookun School for Disabled in Korat, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 4, 2011, during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011.

The Marines and sailors visited the school to deliver toys and interact with the children. Interaction included playing games, singing songs and taking pictures with the children.

Initially, the language barrier between the children and the service members halted interaction. But, soon, the children were embracing Marines and sailors with hugs and sharing high fives and smiles.

“When we go to these schools, we don’t speak the same language, so you inevitably think that there is not the same opportunity to reach out and give them something or to communicate something wonderful,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Mark Torres, MAG-36 chaplain. “But through these community relations projects that we do, we can actually breach the language barrier just through showing our affection.”

One Marine said he found it easy to open up and be friendly with the children.

“They became so willing and wanting to open up to us, that it was very easy for me to just love and care for these children like I have known them forever,” said Pfc. Michael Haslam, an armorer with MAG-36.

“Doing things like this helps the Marines know that giving and caring brings you fulfillment more than anything else,” Torres said. “These community relations projects definitely have a profound impact on the Marines and sailors.”

Haslam agreed this was an experience he wouldn’t forget.

“I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Haslam said. “I loved what we did today, I definitely feel like we made a difference.”

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