NEWS | Nov. 4, 2009

JTF-Bravo hand delivers 2,684 pounds of food to mountain village

By Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Eighty-one volunteers from Joint Task Force-Bravo hiked more than five miles up and down a rocky mountain road Oct. 31 just outside of Comayagua, Honduras, to deliver food to a remote village.

The goal was simple: deliver food and clothes to the people of the remote village of El Ciruelo, said Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Mark Grizzard, Joint Task Force-Bravo chaplain.

It sounds like an easy mission but it was an arduous task for the group to traverse more than two and a half miles of rough, rocky roads carrying a couple thousand pounds of food, he said.

The volunteers carried a total of 122 bags of food, equaling 2,684 pounds. Each bag of food was intended to go to one of the families of this poor mountain village.

The day began at 7:30 a.m. when all the volunteers packed their rucksacks and backpacks at the base chapel with vegetable oil, ketchup, pasta, a couple cans of sardines and bags of sugar, rice, flour and beans.

Chaplain Grizzard said he had three main focuses for the hike.

"Our first focus is to honor God, and share what we have with the people of this remote village," he said.

The other things the chaplain said was he hoped everyone had fun and enjoyed the hike so that the base members could build a solid relationship with the Hondurans, and build better friendships with each other.

After everyone was accounted for they got on the buses and left the base headed toward the mountains.

Chaplain Grizzard said him and a few of the other base personnel scouted the area a few weeks in advance to make sure it would still be possible for the buses to make the trip.

The team determined the roads were still passable, but a rain from the previous day created several precarious river crossings that each of the three buses had to negotiate on roads toward the village.

"The hike itself was probably the most difficult portion of the trip," Chaplain Grizzard said.

The dirt roads were narrow and extremely steep in some areas, he said. The volunteers continually communicated during the entire route letting each other know when vehicles were coming around blind corners in order to protect everyone's safety.

Once in the town the volunteers lined up and passed out the nearly $1,200 worth of food.

The money for the food was raised by offerings collected during the last few weeks of church service, Chaplain Grizzard said.

After the food was passed out many of the volunteers spent some time with the children and villagers. They handed out candy, played soccer with the children and several people got the opportunity to ride a horse that was in the village.

"It was such a rewarding feeling; to be able to bring so much joy into the lives of these children with such a simple thing as chocolate," said Staff Sgt. Song Moon, medical element pharmacy NCO in charge. "Experiences like this and other operations in the region that I have fulfilled really gave me another perspective on life.

The JTF-Bravo's monthly chapel hike was an idea started in 2007 by then Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Chad Bellamy. Each new JTF-Bravo chaplain has continued this tradition over the years.