Photo by Sgt. Tim Meyer, JSOTF-P
Santa, played by PO2
Will Rioseco, SEAL Team 5, and assisted by
Sgt. Brian Bochat, left,
19th Special Forces Group, Utah National
Guard, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Fred Grant, 181st
Naval Air Station
Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas,
deliver gifts to local
Filipino children Dec. 14.
CAMP BAUTISTA, Jolo
Island, Republic of the Philippines — A
few days after Air Force Staff Sgt. Fred Grant settled into
his job as the Special Operations Weather Noncommissioned
Officer here, he made a cardboard donations box and an
Mississippi native had a simple wish: to provide Christmas
gifts for Filipino children who live on the camp here and
whose parents are members of the Armed Forces of the
“I thought it would be
good for morale, and it supports the mission,” said Grant.
“That’s why we’re here – to help people.”
Grant, who is deployed
with the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines,
or JSOTF-P, first met the kids while jogging.
“They would come up and
say hello, and you could tell they were sincere,” he said.
“I noticed that they didn’t have a lot of toys, but they
were having a good time.”
Grant said he wanted to do
something for the kids, and donations began to appear in the
box. But then he was transferred to work at JSOTF-P
headquarters in Zamboanga City.
In stepped Army Sgt. Brian
Bochat, an administrative NCO from West Jordan, and Air
Force Staff Sgt. Austin Stephens, an agent for the Air Force
Office of Special Investigations, who kept tabs on the box
as donations continued.
The generosity of JSOTF-P
personnel based both here and at JSTOF-P headquarters in
Zamboanga City resulted in more than $500 being raised in
about six weeks. Other U.S. military members, such as Army
Sgt. Danny Mitchell, a legal administrative assistant, and
Spc. Sean Defoer, a personnel administrative assistant,
helped by coordinating the Jolo event and purchasing gifts.
The big day for the
presentation of gifts to the children came on Dec. 14.
While waiting for Santa to arrive, Command Sgt. Maj. Scott
Morgan, the JSOTF-P senior enlisted member on Jolo, led the
group in singing "Jingle Bells."
“This is the best thing
we’ve done since we’ve been here,” Morgan said.
More than 100 children
received gifts and a special visit from Santa Claus, played
by Petty Officer 2nd Class Will Rioseco, a JSOTF-P member
and gunner’s mate with Seal Team Five from Coronado, Calif.
Photo by Sgt. Tim Meyer, JSOTF-P
Sgt. Brian Bochat, above left, 19th
Special Forces Group, assists
Santa with gifts at Camp Bautista,
Jolo Island, Philippines, Dec. 14.
According to Grant,
donations were also encouraged by his civilian employer,
Baker Hughes Drilling Fluids in New Orleans, and he has
participated in many charity events over the years. Grant is
a Texas Air National Guard weather forecaster for the 181st
Weather Flight, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve
Base, Fort Worth, Texas.
Bochat’s home unit is the
1-19th Special Forces Group, or SFG, based in Camp Williams,
Utah. Soldiers from the 1-19th are in the midst of a
nine-month rotation in the Philippines.
Stephens, the AFOSI agent,
is based out of Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
JSOTF-P draws military
members from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and
from both active-duty and reserve components. The unit’s
mission is to advise and assist their counterparts in the
Armed Forces of the Philippines in counterterrorism