KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait – The first day of Operation Appreciation ended with a Summit Racing BIGFOOT 4×4® Monster Truck show like no other at Camp Beuhring, and the thrilling spectacle followed a day packed with quality time spent with troops stationed at the installation that boasts a total of 10 square kilometers. The day started with a briefing from base commander Lt. Col. Christopher Leung and was rounded out at the 77th Combat Aviation Brigade where Crew Chief SFC Jenna Wilson kicked off a flight line tour by making the team feel right at home in the Chinook helicopter.
For Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Eddie Krawiec, the 2016 Operation Appreciation trip is his fifth, and the impression the journey makes upon him each year only increases.
Below, Krawiec speaks on the similarities he has found between the dynamics of a squadron and a race team:
“Today at Camp Buehring we met the base commander, Lt. Col. Leung, and he stressed the importance of unity. A large part of his job is bringing everyone together, and I found it interesting as we visited the different units just how much it’s like a team atmosphere. It isn’t just one individual making everything happen; it’s a group of people working together. Everything that these guys and gals do for us, it’s a big team effort, and they all work together for a common goal. The commander has a tough job, he gets daily tasks handed to him for the group to execute, and it’s up to him to see that they are carried out. You could tell that he takes a lot of pride in making sure everyone has everything they need to carry out the mission.
One thing about Camp Beuhring, it is a very young base in terms of the soldiers stationed there, and for a lot of them, it’s the first time they’ve been deployed. The commander is their leader and their mentor, and he brings the experience to the table. That takes a lot of confidence, to be up front, but that confidence resonates, and his pride is reflected all the way from the guy cleaning the bathrooms to the soldiers on the flight line.
We found that out firsthand when we got to go to the flight line and check out the helicopters. We saw the Chinooks, the Black Hawks, and the medi-vacs. It’s really neat to be able to go and touch those things. The one thing that blows my mind is that there are still units from the 1970s out there flying just as well today, or even better, because of the updates they’re able to make to them. It’s the same cradle, but they’ve been able to put in all new electronics and everything. A lot of credit has to go to the mechanics who keep up on the daily operations. There is really a lot of effort that goes into these helicopters and keeping them up and running smoothly, especially in this desert environment that’s really hard on equipment.
They keep after it day after day, and I think the dynamic between everyone out here makes it really cool. Each group has the task of keeping their helicopter up and running; they all pick on each other, just like we do. We love having fun, but at the end of the day, you’re all family, and you enjoy what you do and have a good time. I think you need to do that. If you aren’t having a good time doing what you’re doing, it becomes stressful and makes it harder to accomplish the task at hand. When you enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re there with, it makes a big difference. It makes you want to get up in the morning and get to work. That’s really important when there are millions of people relying on what you do. The guys who fly in these helicopters need to be able to walk out there in a combat or rescue situation, hit that starter button and have it fire up and get going.
It’s definitely interesting to see how this all works behind the scenes, and these soldiers all take major pride in what they do. It’s great to see everyone so excited to show us what they do. It makes it extra special, and when we leave here after spending time with them, you feel like you’re leaving with a piece of their heart because they’ve shared so much of it with us.”