By Brett Gillin
No one can rightfully accuse the men and women of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing of lacking a sense of humor. They may be able to question how dark that sense of humor is, but thanks to a boy’s letter to the troops, and the overwhelming adoption of the five words written within, we all can get a good sense for what makes deployed troops laugh, smile, and inspired.
According to this story on KTBS, it all started when a Sunday School class received an assignment: write letters of encouragement to the troops stationed overseas. A few months later, one of those letters not only made it to Afghanistan, but it made a huge splash with the men and women who read it.
The letter had only five words on it: “Hope you make it. Gavin.” As KTBS points out, the unintended humor behind the message resonated heavily with the deployed troops. Facing death every time they go out on a mission can get to you, and seeing the simple “Hope you make it” letter, which was posted above a hand washing station at the mess hall.
The four word “Hope you make it” phrase spread like a viral video throughout the base. Before long, everyone on base was using the catchphrase with one another, especially before going out on missions. The catch phrase became a staple of posters, coffee mugs, and even morale patches worn on their uniforms. It was about this time that the men and women of the Air Expeditionary Wing decided it was time to try to find this “Gavin” fellow to thank him for his letter and let him know exactly how much it meant to them.
The search began after they discovered that the letter came in a box which was shipped from Shreveport Louisiana. They reached out to reporters at the Shreveport Times to get some help finding their Gavin. When they put out a call, they received several different people claiming that Gavin was their child, but they each turned out to be the wrong boy.
Until Gavin Brint was found, thanks to a family friend who worked closely with the Shreveport Times reporters. When Gavin Brint’s mother heard of the note, she immediately recognized her son’s blunt sensibilities and called to let them know that Gavin Brint was indeed the person they were looking for. Reporters set up a video call between the 438th and Gavin’s family.
During that call, the troop joked about all matters of things, from sports to food. Gavin asked if the people in Afghanistan were nice, what kinds of guns they used, and if they had Twinkies available in Afghanistan. The troops gladly answered each question, sincerely thanked Gavin for his words of encouragement, and agreed to send a signed “Hope you make it” poster back to him. Then, Gavin game the troops a smile, a thumbs up, and told them “Hope you make it.” The 438th cheered, as the phrase had made everyone’s day.