Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) aviators swapped the flightline for the school oval while deployed on Exercise Thai Boomerang 23.
CAPTION: RAAF Wing Commander Sean Hamilton and Royal Thai Air Force Group Captain Sithipol Pomtri pass gifts to students during Exercise Thai Boomerang. Story by Flight Lieutenant Rob Hodgson. Photos by Leading Aircraftman Ryan Howell.
Nong Sao Diao School, a small school located close to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, provides primary education to the local village and the surrounding rural area.
About 200 students, teachers and members of the local area attended the community engagement event, which was also the first time the RAAF had visited the school.
The RAAF and RTAF jointly donated a large supply of sporting equipment to the school, and the RTAF provided free medical, dental and barber services to students, teachers and those living in the area.
Sporting supplies included soccer balls, footballs and cricket sets.
RAAF aviators were quick to take up the challenge of teaching the students the basics of batting – and more than one of them was also taught their own lesson as their bowling was dispatched to the fence by the keen children.
Commanding Officer 1 Squadron Wing Commander Sean Hamilton was invited to address the large gathering.
“We were honoured to join the RTAF in providing support to the school and local community,” Wing Commander Hamilton said.
“This activity helped us build strong relationships, not only with the RTAF, but also with the Thai people, so we can work together to keep our countries and people safe.”
School director Phornnapt Throngarchajit reciprocated the warm feelings generated from the visit.
“Our school was very happy to have this group of guests come all the way from Australia and we are grateful for the donation of sports equipment for the students,” Miss Throngarchajit said.
“Your presence here was very welcome and we hope your visit was worthwhile for you.”
Leading Aircraftman Max Sheldon, a life support fitter with 1 Squadron, not only had a great time playing cricket with the students but also gained valuable insight into the Nong Sao Diao community.
“It was awesome fun interacting with the kids and also seeing how a Thai school works,” he said.
“One thing I learnt was that kids are kids, no matter where in the world they live.”
Exercise Thai Boomerang 23, held at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base from August 21 to 31, aimed to enhance the capabilities and strengthen the cooperation between the RAAF and the RTAF.