SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras , –
More than 172 members of Joint Task Force-Bravo completed a seven-mile round trip hike to deliver more than 4,500 pounds of food and supplies to families in need in the mountain village of La Brea and La Laguna, Honduras, Feb. 28, 2015.
The Task Force members participated in the 59th JTF-Bravo chapel hike, a long-standing tradition during which service members donate funds to purchase food and supplies, and then carry those items on a hike through the mountains to deliver them to local underserviced communities, which is difficult to access by vehicle. Along with the service members, the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras, James Nealon, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, Julie Schechter-Torres, joined in on the hike.
The hike was no easy stroll though. During the 3.5 mile trek up the mountain, Task Force members made an elevation gain of 1,500 feet while carrying more than 20 pounds of supplies each.
To make the event successful, there was a lot of coordination involved.
"For this trip, the chaplain's office worked together with Joint Task Force-Bravo's intelligence office and civil and military operations office, along with Joint Security Forces and the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment Unit Ministry Team to scope out and select a village," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Samuel McClellan, Joint Task Force-Bravo command chaplain. "In addition, we worked with the Governor of Comayagua since she wanted to support La Brea and donate 65 bags of food she acquired from the Honduran FEMA-equivalent agency, Comision Permanente de Contingencias (COPECO)."
Between the two villages, approximately 230 families received the donated goods. Each family received approximately three-days worth of food, which was purchased by the JTF-Bravo Chapel using funds donated by the volunteers.
Prior to distributing the goods from the service members to the families, the La Laguna town leader, Maria Pinera, expressed her gratitude.
"Our friends, our neighbors are visiting us here today, but they are not coming empty handed. They are coming here with nutrition for the people," said Pinera. "Thanks be to God, and again, thank you."
After delivering the food and supplies, Task Force members spent time interacting with the villagers and playing with the children, to include providing them with three piñatas full of candy to break open and 24 soccer balls, which were donated by the non-profit organization, Kick for Nick Foundation, to play with. Many of the children also filled their hands and pockets with the candy they were given by the volunteers.
Since the chapel hikes originate in 2004, over 9,800 service members have donated over $173,800 and volunteered their time to deliver more than 214,000 pounds of food and supplies to several remote villages.