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Deployed D.C. Guard members inspire school children in the Australian Outback

Flight surgeon Lt. Col. Jim Doyle tells Australian youngsters about the District of Columbia Air National Guard's home city with a short geography lesson on a visit to McFarlane Primary School, near the unit's deployed location at RAAF Tindal, Australia, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Flight surgeon Lt. Col. Jim Doyle tells Australian youngsters about the District of Columbia Air National Guard's home city with a short geography lesson on a visit to McFarlane Primary School, near the unit's deployed location at RAAF Tindal, Australia, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Staff Sgt. Malcom Williams, 113th Wing medical technician, assists a student in performing CPR on a first-aid training dummy during the District of Columbia Air National Guard's visit to McFarlane Primary School while deployed to Australia for exercises Pitch Black and Tri-Sling, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Staff Sgt. Malcom Williams, 113th Wing medical technician, assists a student in performing CPR on a first-aid training dummy during the District of Columbia Air National Guard's visit to McFarlane Primary School while deployed to Australia for exercises Pitch Black and Tri-Sling, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Members of the District of Columbia's Air National Guard's deployed 121st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pose for a picture with McFarlane Primary School students in Katherine, Australia, during a visit, Sept. 17.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Members of the District of Columbia's Air National Guard's deployed 121st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pose for a picture with McFarlane Primary School students in Katherine, Australia, during a visit, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Deployed District of Columbia Air National Guard members dance a traditional Aboriginal dance with McFarlane Primary School students, accompanied by the school's cultural program director Arnold Vonsenden playing the didgeridoo during a visit, Sept. 17.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Deployed District of Columbia Air National Guard members dance a traditional Aboriginal dance with McFarlane Primary School students, accompanied by the school's cultural program director Arnold Vonsenden playing the didgeridoo during a visit, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Lt. Col. Eric Haagenson, pilot, 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, accepts a thank-you note from Australian primary school students at McFarlane Primary School in Katherine, Australia, during the unit's visit, Sept. 17.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

Lt. Col. Eric Haagenson, pilot, 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, accepts a thank-you note from Australian primary school students at McFarlane Primary School in Katherine, Australia, during the unit's visit, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

District of Columbia Air National Guard F-16 pilot Lt. Col. Eric Haagenson explains to students how his helmet and flight equipment help him survive and fly a fighter aircraft, during a visit to McFarlane Primary School in Katherine, Australia, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

District of Columbia Air National Guard F-16 pilot Lt. Col. Eric Haagenson explains to students how his helmet and flight equipment help him survive and fly a fighter aircraft, during a visit to McFarlane Primary School in Katherine, Australia, Sept. 17. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Airman 1st Class Aaron Church)

RAAF TINDAL, AUSTRALIA -- D.C. Air National Guard members, the aptly named 'Capital Guardians', took time to plant seeds of friendship with Australian youngsters during their recent deployment to Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, Australia.        

Approximately 20 pilots, maintainers, medics, and life support Airmen visited  McFarlane Primary School in Katherine, Australia, and told eager students about their jobs, and life in the United States.  RAAF Tindal is a remote base in the Australian Outback almost 400 kilometers from the nearest mid-sized city. Many children from the neighboring community of Katherine and the surrounding bush come from traditional Aboriginal families that often struggle to integrate with modern Australian culture. As a result, many families struggle with poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, and unemployment. 

"A lot of students think they're not going anywhere ... they don't take risks and they often give up on things very quickly," said McFarlane Principal Jenny Henderson, explaining the school's challenge. "At McFarlane, we focus on life after school and getting students to think beyond school [and] to set and achieve goals for their future."

Capital Guardians stressed the value of hard-work, persistence, teamwork, mutual respect, and bouncing back from failure in addition to letting the children get hands-on with F-16 survival equipment and other tools of the trade. Lt. Col. Eric Haagenson, 121st Fighter Squadron pilot, awed the youngsters by modeling his flight helmet, and medical technician Staff Sgt. Malcolm Williams taught the children some basic CPR, letting a very-eager schoolboy demonstrate on the dummy. 113th Maintenance Group superintendent and deployment Non-commissioned Officer in Charge, Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Smiley shared a lesson on core values, while 121st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flight surgeon Lt. Col. Jim Doyle taught the kids a bit about U.S. geography.

Each of the Airmen took the chance to share what they do and where they are from, stressing how people from different communities and backgrounds come together as a unit to achieve an important mission for their country. In return, the students taught the D.C. Guard members a traditional aboriginal dance, getting the whole group keeping rhythm to the didgeridoo and clap-sticks.  The students were delighted to meet real "soldiers" and school officials said the D.C. Guard's visit was a first for RAAF Tindal, possibly laying a foundation for Australian Airmen to build a longer-term relationship with the school.