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Airmen help out Romanian children

CAMPIA TURZII AIR BASE, Romania - Capt. Neils Barner, 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot, describes an F-15C Eagle to a group of Romanian school children  Nov. 5. The children visited from a local youth center where Airmen had volunteered to play games and perform repairs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

CAMPIA TURZII AIR BASE, Romania - Capt. Neils Barner, 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot, describes an F-15C Eagle to a group of Romanian school children Nov. 5. The children visited from a local youth center where Airmen had volunteered to play games and perform repairs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

CAMPIA TURZII AIR BASE, Romania - Air Force firefighters give a pumper truck demonstration to Romanian school children Nov. 5. The children were invited from a local youth center to meet the Airmen on the final day of Operation Golden Lance and see their equipment up-close. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

CAMPIA TURZII AIR BASE, Romania - Air Force firefighters give a pumper truck demonstration to Romanian school children Nov. 5. The children were invited from a local youth center to meet the Airmen on the final day of Operation Golden Lance and see their equipment up-close. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

CAMPIA TURZII AIR BASE, Romania -- In between flying missions and maintaining jets, Airmen participating in Operation Golden Lance here took time out to give back to the local community.

At a local youth center run by the Romanian Foundation for Children, Community and Family, Airmen played sports and board games with children and renovated their facility.
"A project like this shows we can perform our duties and still reach out to the community," said Tech. Sgt. Shawn Kerr, 48th Maintenance Group aerospace ground technician craftsman, who headed up the project.

The facility has been helped out in the past by Airmen on previous exercises. This year provided the chance to build on that success, Sergeant Kerr said. Besides organizing for volunteers to visit the facility, he arranged for the combat communications personnel to upgrade the center's computer systems, which had been donated by a previous group of Airmen.

"It's an extraordinary example of being human and helping those in need," said social worker Anca Lorena. The Golden Lance Airmen were the first Americans she had met since starting work at the center, and she greatly appreciates the positive effect their visits have on the children.

"[The Airmen] aren't ashamed to play, which is very important to them," said Ms. Lorena. "Every day the children asked me 'when are the Americans coming back?'"

As a final gesture before the Airmen depart for home, 30 children visited the flightline to see the American and Romanian aircraft up close and even sat in the cockpit of an F-15.
Approximately $2,000 worth of clothing and toys were donated to the center. However, no dollar amount can be put on the bond between the children and the Airmen.

As Sergeant Kerr said while the children happily swarmed about the aircraft, peering into intakes and asking countless questions, "Good memories are something you can't really buy."