Serving the deserving--Reservist/spouse give a little extra each UTA

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alyssa Blom
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
As the C-130 shuttles land here Friday night before UTA, many of the Airmen on board have not eaten dinner. Until recently, shuttle riders had to buy a meal somewhere when the plane arrived. But since summer of 2009, there is now a generous couple who provide food for them nearly every month when they check in at the North Country Lodge here. The couple feels the need to give back to the troops, and for some very special reasons.

These two giving individuals are Lt. Col. Sharon Simpson, the Family Liason Officer, a mental health nurse at the Aeromedical Staging Squadron (ASTS) here, and her husband, Keith. They met while she was stationed at RAF Lakenheath in England in August of 1997, and they married Valentine's Day, 1999.

Mr. Simpson was born in 1939 and remembers World War II. As a young boy, he was sent out of London for a while for protection, and remembers rushing down into the cold and dark London underground tunnels at night while Germans bombed the city. The American troops who served in England had a lasting effect, since Mr. Simpson served in the British and Arab armies for 32 years. He speaks German, Arabic and some French, continues to read war books, studies military strategy and keeps up with current world threats.

"If it weren't for Americans, I would be speaking better German than I do now, or I would be dead, "said Mr. Simpson. " I owe a great deal to the Americans who were fighting to prevent Germany from invading England during WWII, and I haven't forgotten their sacrifice. "

The idea for food for the shuttle riders was his idea, since he wanted to give back to the American troops, said Lt. Col. Simpson. He started with something sweet, but got complaints that they needed something healthy as many people were concerned about their weight.

Since then, they bring fruit, meat and other items to please more people. The Simpsons try to provide different food every month for a nice variety, and they often prepare weeks in advance. Mr. Simpson drives up from their house in so he has enough time to prepare for the event. He usually shops for produce that day to provide the freshest food possible.
In January, they provided hot beef sandwiches, and in February, they had hot dogs, chips, beans and fresh fruit. Sometimes they run out, but they learn something new each month and try to prepare for the demand. They refuse donations or contributions, and they feel the food is a way of giving back to the service members who sacrifice so much.

"I feel that we put a smile on the shuttle riders' faces who may not have had a meal before driving to the airport and many not feel like they want to go out at that late hour to find food," said Lt. Col. Simpson. "It is our way of paying it forward for the honor and privilege of being in the Air Force family. We shuttle riders fly high on Friday night and then we have something to eat together. No one has to pay and all are encouraged to come to our table."

The Airmen appreciate their generosity, and they look forward to the hot meal when they land. Chief Master Sergeant Mark Koenig, Command Chief, said,"What an honorable way to be serving the best of the deserving."

Many people and organizations have their own way of showing appreciation for American troops, and the Simpsons feel this is a small way to show their gratitude. When all of the Airmen had their fill and gone up to their rooms, the Simpsons were still smiling as they thought of how much the troops seemed to appreciate their efforts. "We love the military way, 'Help each other and be a good wingman.'", said Lt. Col. Simpson. "We want to be good wingmen to the troops by providing a positive gesture, the offer of something good to eat at the end of a long day."