By Senior Airman Lynsie Nichols
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan — Operation Warm and Dry is a major project at the Transit Center at Manas. This year, approximately $300,000 of jackets and blankets were purchased from local vendors to be distributed to families in need, and two deployed Team Pete Airmen were helping make it possible.
During a four day trip to Talas City, Kyrgyzstan, Dec. 27-30, a dozen military members from the TCM distributed 741 jackets and 736 blankets to five distribution sites in the area.
For Senior Airman Scott Fry, 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron humanitarian assistance team, deployed from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, this is his first time participating in a project overseas.
“(The experience) was amazing,” Fry exclaimed. “The best part was handing out coats to the children and watching their faces light up with happiness.”
Tech. Sgt. Karl Ferree, also from the 376th ECES structures humanitarian assistance team, deployed from RAF Mildenhall, England, added this trip to a long list of humanitarian projects he has been involved in.
“I have always enjoyed the humanitarian side of my job,” Ferree said. “The feeling of satisfaction it gives you to make someone’s life a little bit better is like nothing else.”
The group traveled about 180 miles through rough road conditions and mountainous scenery to make it to Talas City and distribute the jackets and blankets.
“We drove over two mountain passes, one was 12,000 feet and the other was 11,000 feet,” said Capt. Spencer Bowen, Theatre Security Cooperation humanitarian assistance project officer, deployed from the Air Force ROTC Detachment 910 at The University of Washington. “On the way back, our cargo truck got stuck and everyone (Kyrgyz and American citizens) worked together to get it out.”
The crew traveled in three SUVs and one delivery truck averaging 20 mph.
While the trip to and from Talas City may have been memorable to some, for Lt. Col. Adam Rutherford, director of TSC, and deployed from Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the most memorable moment was the visit to Pokrovka Rehabilitation Orphanage for Disabled Children.
“We were all excited to go, it’s always fun to bring smiles and happiness on our trips,” Rutherford said. “Many of us on this deployment are away from our families; this is a chance for us to be around kids.”
He added that even though the children were handicapped with painful disabilities, the children were excited and thankful to receive the jackets and blankets.
“(This trip) is a reminder to be thankful for your health and wellbeing,” he said.
Other distribution sites included Kok-OI Village, Bakai-Ata Village, Manas Rayon and Talas City School #2.