High school freshman adopts deployed Airmen

Lt. Col. Christopher Sage, 389th Fighter Squadron commander, explains to Carson McIe the importance of each part of the flight suit, Oct. 4, 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.  McIe and his parents came to Idaho to meet the troops they supported for six months while they were deployed to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Heather Hayward)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Sage, 389th Fighter Squadron commander, explains to Carson McIe the importance of each part of the flight suit, Oct. 4, 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. McIe and his parents came to Idaho to meet the troops they supported for six months while they were deployed to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Heather Hayward/Released)

Col. Ron Buckley, 366th Fighter Wing commander, meets with Carson McIe, Oct. 5 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The fourteen-year-old high school freshman from Galion, Ohio, was coined by Col. Buckley for supporting the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit during a seven month deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelina Drake)

U.S. Air Force Col. Ron Buckley, 366th Fighter Wing commander, meets with Carson McIe, Oct. 5 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The 14-year-old high school freshman from Galion, Ohio, was coined by Col. Buckley for supporting the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit during a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelina Drake/Released)

Col. James McClellan, 366th Maintenance Group commander, meets with Carson McIe Oct. 5, 2011 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Carson was flown here by members of the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and received a base tour as a thank you for raising more than $1,000 in care packages during the unit’s deployment. Carson and his family are residents of Galion, Ohio, and have no military affiliation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelina Drake)

U.S. Air Force Col. James McClellan, 366th Maintenance Group commander, meets with Carson McIe at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Oct. 5. Carson was flown here by members of the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and received a base tour as a thank you for raising more than $1,000 in care packages during the unit’s deployment. Carson and his family are residents of Galion, Ohio, and have no military affiliation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelina Drake/Released)

Lt. Col. Christopher Sage, 389th Fighter Squadron commander, presents a squadron t-shirt to Carson McIe, Oct. 4, 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. McIe raised more than $1000 to send care packages to the troops. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Heather Hayward)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Sage, 389th Fighter Squadron commander, presents a squadron t-shirt to Carson McIe, Oct. 4, 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. McIe raised more than $1000 to send care packages to the troops. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Heather Hayward/Released)

Col. Ron Buckley, 366th Fighter Wing commander, flips through a scrap book created by Angela Hoffman, mother of Carson McIe, Oct. 5, 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Members of the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flew Carson and his parents here and sponsored a base tour as a thank you for raising more than $1,000 worth of care packages during the unit’s deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelina Drake)

U.S. Air Force Col. Ron Buckley, 366th Fighter Wing commander, flips through a scrap book created by Angela Hoffman, mother of Carson McIe, Oct. 5, 2011, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Members of the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flew Carson and his parents here and sponsored a base tour as a thank you for raising more than $1,000 worth of care packages during the unit’s deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelina Drake/Released)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE. Idaho -- In December, 2010, Angela Hoffman rushed to her Galion, Ohio, home after a local photo shoot with a MHAFB Airman who was in the area visiting his wife's family before his March deployment. She hurried into her house and frantically began to edit the photos she had just taken.

When her son, Carson McIe saw his mother in a frenzy, he asked her what was wrong. She explained to him the Airman from the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit was deploying in a matter of days and McIe simply said, "shake his hand for me and tell him I said 'thanks' for his service."

According to "the Airman," Tech. Sgt. Damian Braswell, the impact of such a selfless gesture began a chain reaction of events which resulted in the raining of more than $1,000 in care packages and changed the lives of more than 400 Airmen.

"I was completely taken aback by this young man who wore his heart and his patriotism on his sleeve," said Braswell, the 389th AMU aircraft section chief. "Unfortunately, this type of selfless behavior is not seen very much from individuals outside of the military, let alone an entire town."

Braswell, who is from Prince George County, Virginia, decided to thank McIe in a traditional military way.

"My husband was completely blown away by the gesture," said Susan Braswell. "He decided to send Carson a shadow box with some of his medals, patches and coins as a way of saying thanks."

Along with the box, there was a letter addressed to Carson which stated, "I thought I would tell you a little about my military career and send you some things that are very important to me. I heard you like the military and are extremely proud of your country. The fact that someone your age, who isn't affiliated with the military but is so patriotic, is the reason I decided to serve my country. Thank you." An extremely surprised McIe received the box a few days later.

"It was very emotional for me when I received the box and the letter," said McIe, who is interested in joining the Air Force when he is old enough. "I was shocked by Damian's generosity, especially since we had never even met."

After receiving the gift, Carson and his father, Greg Hoffman, and mother began rallying the support of the entire town to ensure the members of the 389th Fighter Squadron and AMU had as many care packages as a small Ohio town could provide.

"The local Sons of American Veterans post 1979, Veterans of Foreign Wars post 4329 and many local members of our community were completely willing to help us with fundraisers and donations for the care packages," said Angela Hoffman, McIe's mother. "Our town is almost 2,000 miles from Mountain Home Air Force Base, and yet Carson was able to rally support for care packages like we were only a couple miles away."

Whenever Braswell called home and told his wife there was a need she immediately made a phone call to the young man who adopted an entire unit, and a few days later the care package went out.

"These weren't just little boxes filled with a few small items either," said Hoffman. "They were the really big boxes crammed full of every kind of delicious treat and helpful items."

Braswell and many members of the 389th AMU were so appreciative of Carson's efforts they decided to pool their money together and purchase plane tickets for him and his parents to come to MHAFB for a week.

"I met Carson for the first time when he flew out here," said Braswell. "We had only exchanged letters and photos up until then. He is a terrific young man who I am proud to call my friend. All senior leaders know how important public support is to military personnel, and of course, the mission."

In particular, one senior leader was especially impressed with Carson's efforts.

"One of the most important jobs of senior leadership here on base is taking care Gunfighters, and for this young man to adopt an entire AMU was a tremendous help," said Chief Master Sgt. Geoff Weimer, 366th Fighter Wing command chief. "We are always looking for new and innovative ways to take care of personnel, and this patriotic young man definitely filled a need."