Portland Guardsmen bring smiles, lasting memories to European orphans

  • Published
  • By Capt. Angela Walz
  • 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen deployed from the 142nd Fighter Wing (142 FW), Portland Air National Guard (ANG) Base, Ore., to the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (123 EFS) at Campia Turzii, Romania, raised more than $3,500 dollars to provide backpacks filled with clothing and toiletries for orphans who live near their deployed airbase.

The smiles on the faces of the children who received the backpacks offered a sense of mission accomplishment and justification to the Airmen as they neared the end of their six-month deployment to the region.

"This was the best day I've had here," said Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan, Commander, 123 EFS. "Our troops from Oregon really made a difference with a local Romanian orphanage."

Overall, the Airmen raised 14,000 lei (approximately $3,500 U.S. dollars) to buy necessities for the children, and had the opportunity to spend the day on two different occasions with them.

The initial visit to the orphanage was organized by personnel at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Airman 1st Class Devin Wulle, a 142 FW F-15 Eagle Crew Chief, Staff Sgt. Tristan Janini, 142 FW Electrical/Environmental Specialist, and Master Sgt. Joanne Lorden, 142 Maintenance Group Training Manager, are the Portland-based Guardsmen from the 142nd Maintenance Group who were deployed to Campia Turzii and who planned a second event on Sept. 19 to deliver the backpacks.

"The original goal was 10,000 lei," said Airman Wulle. "We met that, and with the additional money... we were able to go above and beyond and purchase cold weather clothing. Our unit raised over 14,000 lei!" he said.

In addition to clothing, each backpack also contained a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, body spray and wash, a loofa sponge, shampoo and conditioner, a hair brush and even a candy bar for each child.

The ANG Airmen, along with active-duty U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, served in various roles as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP) while forward deployed to Campia Turzii, Romania, as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The combined TSP unit is known as the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and includes a total of 12 aircraft and approximately 200 Airmen. These were the first Air National Guard units supporting the TSP mission in Europe, and the 142nd Fighter Wing's first unit deployment to Europe.

"Whether at home or abroad, we're always ready, always there," said Lt. Col. Sullivan. "The National Guard is always on mission."