Something as small as beef jerky can make a big difference to airmen stationed thousands of miles from home.
Jessica Davidson learned just how such treats are appreciated Tuesday at Fairchild Air Force Base. The 18-year-old is a recent graduate of Lewis and Clark High School, where she chose as her senior project to raise money to assemble care packages and send them to troops at the Transit Center at Manas in Kyrgyzstan.
“I have the utmost respect for our military,” Davidson said. “I think that sometimes they don’t get recognized for everything they do.”
On Tuesday, she was invited to attend the 9/11 Retreat Ceremony at Fairchild Air Force Base and was personally thanked by base commander Col. Brian Newberry, who took on those duties in August.
“I appreciate what you’ve done for us,” Newberry told her. “You are my first glimpse of Spokane and seeing what a tremendous supporting community this was.”
“Today is patriots day,” he said. “And you are certainly one of our best patriots out there.”
Prior to his arrival at Fairchild, Newberry was an operations group commander at Manas. He saw a letter Davidson had written and wrote back to thank her for the care packages and find out what Spokane was like, knowing he would soon be the base commander at Fairchild. The two exchanged several letters.
“It meant so much to me, all the care packages that she sent overseas,” Newberry said. “They just kind of remind you of home, and that’s what it’s all about. We’re over there because we’re protecting home, protecting Spokane, and all that this country represents.”
Before the 9/11 ceremony, Davidson was given a tour of the base, including a KC-135 Stratotanker, and met 1st Lt. John Delosreyes and Sr. Airman Tracy Johnson, who enjoyed some of Davidson’s care-package goodies while deployed at Manas. She sent about 25 packages in all.
“It’s a big morale booster,” Delosreyes said. “It really lifts our hearts.”
Johnson added, “Jessica’s Rice Krispie treats were my crew’s favorite. It was always nice to get something homemade.”
Newberry flew a flag with him on a mission over Afghanistan on President’s Day in honor of Davidson.
He gave it to her Tuesday to thank her.
“It’s a shock,” Davidson said. “I didn’t expect any of this to happen. It’s just an amazing opportunity to see that what I did mattered. It seems like such a small thing, sending care packages, compared to what they do for us.”
Davidson said she plans to continue sending care packages.
“They don’t have to put their lives on the line, but they do,” she said. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”