Boy’s blunt message inspires U.S. troops in Afghanistan

SHREVEPORT, LA (KTBS/CNN) – Troops stationed in Afghanistan got a huge morale boost from a handwritten note from a boy in Shreveport. So they launched a mission to find the boy who scrawled that note.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Bass, NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan and 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, displays the "Gavin Fan Club" poster at Forward Operating Base Oqab in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 5, 2014. A four-word simple note from a boy named Gavin continues to amuse and inspire deployed servicemembers some 8 months after its arrival. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Mike Hammond)
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Bass displays the “Gavin Fan Club” poster in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 5, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Mike Hammond)

The 438th Air Expeditionary Wing is stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan. They act as air advisors to support and train the Afghan Air Force, and they’re under attacks and threats from insurgents who don’t want to see them succeed.

So the support from folks back in the U.S. means so much to them. Cards and letters, most from school children, are posted all around the base.

Among a sea of letters, one stood out. Taped right above the hand washing station, it had a simple, four word message, “Hope you make it. Gavin”

The boy’s unintended humor about the deadly danger of their mission, spread like wildfire with the airmen at the base. Headed out on a mission? Hope you make it.

It became so popular, that a Gavin Club started.

The advisors wanted to meet Gavin, so the search for the honest little boy began.

“I got this email that was like ‘we just really want to find Gavin because it has brought us so much joy on our deployment.’ So, they said, ‘can you help us find Gavin?’ And we did,” said Maya Lau, Shreveport Times reporter.

The Shreveport Times published their ‘Who’s Gavin’ story on a busy work day for Ashley Brint.

“You need to stop what you are doing and look at this paper. this is our Gavin,” Brint remembers.

A popular morale patch crafted from the four-letter note a boy named Gavin sent on a holiday card - "Hope you make it." The boy's note continues to amuse and inspire many deployed members at Forward Operating Base Oqab, Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Mike Hammond)
A popular morale patch crafted from the four-letter note a boy named Gavin sent on a holiday card – “Hope you make it.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Mike Hammond)

A world away in Afghanistan, the airmen started to get good news – stay tuned, we may have found Gavin. One day is all it took for Gavin’s teacher to remember the Sunday school assignment that she almost didn’t send.

“So we have to go through every single card and every single letter. And one that came across was ‘hope you make it.’ And I wondered if that was too blunt and if the troops would take it in the right way,” said Sunday school teacher Kasie Maineiro.

When the story hit the KTBS newsroom, they reached out to Gavin’s mom to make an overseas meeting possible.

And everyone wanted to meet him.

“I actually saved the card and sent it to my wife and she took a picture of it and that is when the club really took off. I don’t know how something so wise could come out of someone so small,” said Lt. Col. Rod Bass.

“I’m always getting on to him, and I tell him, you’re being a little too blunt. So it’s really neat that these four words have meant so much to y’all, but as my wife said, you guys are the real heroes,” said Gavin’s father Wes Brint.

“There is a lot of danger out there, so to keep those words in mind makes us keep our heads on the swivel and remember to make it back safe,” said Advisor Pete Yelverton.

“Hope you make it!” responded Gavin as the group erupted in cheer.

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