The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, hosted nine members of the Georgetown and Philippines Rotary Club as part of Rotary International District 3860’s Group Study Exchange tour of Fort Hood on May 15.

During their stop at Hood Army Airfield, troops with the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, interacted and answered club members’ questions while giving them a tour of a static Apache helicopter. Members could sit in the pilot seat and wear aviation equipment.

Randy Mongold, Georgetown Rotary Club president and a member for more than 25 years, took part in the tour and said information flow between soldiers and Rotary members went off without a hitch.

“The group study exchange these Rotary Club members are undergoing right now will pay off in dividends for not only the members, but also for the soldiers and Americans they interact with,” Mongold said. “These individuals will depart back to the Philippines in coming weeks with not only clearer concepts and ideas of Americans, but also a better understanding of American soldiers and the peace they are trying to promote.”

Many times misunderstandings occur because people relate what they see in movies and in the news and use it to stereotype people they’ve never met and know little about, Mongold said.

“Time and time again, these exchanges end with both parties having a better, more positive outlook and better understanding of each other,” Mongold said. “What we see in movies and in the press often focus on the negative. It’s when we come face to face we realize we’re all real people with similar values.”

When members of fellow nations interact with each other and share knowledge and ideologies, it helps build capacity and friendships while also affecting people indirectly as well, Mongold said about the impact of Rotary group study exchanges.

“One exchange will not only change how an individual thinks, but also trickle down to their children and build a brighter tomorrow for future generations,” Mongold said.

Filipino Rotary members got to see modern Army equipment up-close for the first time, said Adelito M. Solibaga Jr., a member of the Philippines Rotary Club.

“This is my first time sitting inside a helicopter, and it’s a fantastic feeling,” Solibaga said. “In my country we don’t have the Apache, so this is a very rare opportunity that’s going to make my friends back home very jealous. The whole tour of Fort Hood has been outstanding, but this is an experience I’ll never forget.”

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