438th Air Expeditionary Wing   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

News > Commentary - Thanking Gavin: Boy's holiday card amuses, inspires deployed troops
Story at a Glance
 Simple message on holiday card continues to inspire deployed troops
 "Hope you make it -- Gavin" becomes favorite saying at FOB in Kabul
 Inspired morale patches, coffee cups, and posters with message on them
Previous ImageNext Image
Hope you make it -- Gavin
A popular morale patch crafted from the four-word 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)
Download HiRes
Thanking Gavin: Boy's holiday card amuses, inspires deployed troops

Posted 8/12/2014   Updated 8/12/2014 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Maj. Sean Papworth
NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan

8/12/2014 - KABUL, Afghanistan -- The card posted on the wall consisted of just four short words and the owner's name. It read, "Hope you make it - Gavin."

This simple message from a grade school holiday card at the entry to the dining facility on our small Forward Operating Base in Kabul, Afghanistan, brought no small amount of joy and quite a bit of laughter to all who saw it. The placement was perfect: taped to the wall, above the only trash can in the check-in and hand washing area everyone goes through before going inside to eat. Every single deployed member saw these four words and their author's name before every meal during our most festive season.

But, though it made us laugh, this one-liner carried so much weight for so many people, including me.

To me, this short saying had a massive impact in spite of being only four words long. I thought, "This young Gavin is wise beyond his years." So with just a concise message on that holiday card, he wished me well -- while being slightly realistic about the role I lived as a deployed member of our expeditionary military service. I may not make it, but he hopes I do.

That is a profound comfort from a presumed grade-schooler. It turned out to be the one message I adopted as a deployed state of mind. So with that simple thought in mind, those of us who were deployed here during the last holiday season adopted Gavin's words as our favorite saying.

Going on a mission? "Hope you make it." Going on leave? "Hope you make it." Going to the restroom? You guessed it: "Hope you make it!"

Gavin's message took root and carried on well past the holiday season. By this summer, many of the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines who originally saw the card had redeployed (They made it!), but the message lived on. The card was taken down and its whereabouts are unknown. But new teammates now pass along young Gavin's words and are told the tale of its enduring meaning. In fact, the popularity of the saying has grown within our organization and has since been immortalized in the form of posters, coffee cups, and recently uniform "morale" patches. We may not be able to wear them on duty, but you can bet a lot of us have one!

"Hope you make it." What a timeless message from a young American in support of his country's troops in Afghanistan!

I hope to meet Gavin one day and let him know the great joy that his little phrase brought to our happy lot. I know that I and those working with me will not forget this saying. It became a significant part of our deployed life.

And after successfully completing 365 days deployed, all I want to say in conclusion is ... THANK YOU, Gavin -- "I made it!"

8/21/2014 3:37:59 PM ET
We found Gavin He's the young hero of the Gavin Fan Club and author of the poignant motto Hope you make it that has gained a life of its own among servicemen and -women stationed at Forward Operating Base Oqab in Kabul. Click here to learn more ... httpbit.lyVI8Xzy
The Times-Shreveport, Shreveport
8/14/2014 11:14:53 AM ET
I hope you all make it guys. Tommy
Petr Tomanek, Czech Republic
Add a comment

 Inside the 438th AEW

ima cornerSearch

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     USA.gov     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act