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News | Oct. 22, 2007

JTF-Bravo completes second hike to deliver food to mountain village

By Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen from Soto Cano Air Base completed the second in a series of five mountain hikes to deliver food here Oct. 20.

The hike, rated as "physically challenging" by its organizers, took approximately four hours as the servicemembers navigated the steep terrain to the village at an estimated 4,950 feet above sea level. The group trekked two and a half miles one way, taking numerous breaks along the way. As the group neared the peak, the clouds surrounding them quickly gave way to a rain shower.

Despite the rain, the group of 48 volunteers pressed on to their destination, delivering approximately 450 pounds of donated food to the village.

"This was a follow up hike to the first one," said Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Chad Bellamy. "We laid a good foundation and we saw a lot of new faces this time."

Atop the mountain, the group stopped for a lunch of Meals Ready to Eat at the local school before starting their decent back down the mountain.

The was the first hike for Air Force 1st Lt. Juan Fiol, the installation transportation officer for Joint Task Force-Bravo.

"I thought it was really good, and I enjoyed it a lot," Lieutenant Fiol said. "I'm not an avid hiker, but it was challenging - I definitely got a good workout."

The lieutenant said he wasn't too exhausted from the hike, although he did feel sore the next day. His reason for participating wasn't for the exercise though, but rather to gain the experience of helping the local community.

"There wasn't anything to gain on my level, but to give back to the local area," he said. "I'll definitely go on the next hike."

This was the second hike here for Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jon Sweeten, J-3 Current Operations officer.

"We went about 2,000 feet higher on this hike than we did on the last one," he said. "It was definitely challenging getting all of that food up to the top - about 5,000 feet."

The commander said overall it was an enjoyable experience.

"The biggest benefit for me was just being able to help the people up on this mountain. It's very hard for them to get food up where they're at, and this was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday."

The goal of the hike club is to do a series of five hikes, according to Chaplain Bellamy. "We're working right now on preparation for our third hike in November to the village of La Sampedrana."

With this recent hike to Aldea Bella Vista depleting the supply of donated food for this project, the JTF-Bravo Chapel is earmarking Sunday's tithes to buy food for the remaining hikes.

"The money taken up in that offering will go purposely toward purchasing food," Chaplain Bellamy said. "We want to go on hikes with a purpose - that purpose being to bless and give to a needy community."