Flood relief: A US helicopter pilot’s tale

Published: September 30, 2010

PHOTO: MAJOR AMANDA ROSSI

I am an American helicopter pilot in Pakistan.  My colleagues and I came because Pakistan and its people are enduring the aftermath of a devastating flood.  We were ordered to be here, and we miss our homes, but most of us are glad to help because we believe it’s the right thing to do.

I did not know much about Pakistan before I arrived here.  I knew of the food.  I knew of monsoons and Mohenjo Daro, Karachi and the Khyber Pass, but I had no concept of what Pakistan looked, felt, or sounded like. I even thought many Pakistanis would want us to leave.

I had no idea what the people would be like in person.  I wondered if they would resemble the images I’d seen on TV – would they protest our presence in the streets?  Would they tolerate us?  Or would they simply ignore us and go about their business?

After a few weeks of packing and planning, we were ready to deploy.  Full of excitement and some anxiety, I kissed my wife, took one last picture and was gone. We flew on a cargo jet from Alaska to Islamabad and the flight took so long I hardly knew whether it was day or night when we finally arrived.  Shouldering my gear, I headed to the terminal, weaving among Pakistani military and civilians on the tarmac.  A US Marine captain guided my group inside where we filled out information cards and relaxed in the cool quietness, surveying our area; smooth stone floors, low-slung furniture, and ceiling fans spinning high above.  The captain was talking to a Pakistani man who had been helping us.  Before we left, the man shook my hand and looked me in the eyes. “Thank you for coming to my poor country,” he said quietly.

I wanted to convey the depth of my feelings toward him and his homeland, but all I said was, “You would probably do the same for us” as I walked away.

That was my first interaction with a Pakistani here.

The days since arriving have passed quickly.  Every day we take rice, flour, blankets, housing materials, cooking oil – anything – up and down the Swat and Indus River Valleys.  We also bring sick, injured, and displaced people to hospitals and hometowns.

My first mission took us up the Indus river valley, and I embarrassed myself by constantly exclaiming its beauty.  Below me was the Karakorum Highway – the old Silk Road into China – and the valley itself, with terraced farmland overshadowed by majestic, snow-capped mountains.

Along with the beauty, though, I see reminders of the flood, bridges that are broken or missing and roads and fields that have been washed away.  I am beginning to see widespread reconstruction now as well and feel hope for the people in these villages.  They will soon have another way to get help.

I realize that some who read this will question our intentions and some may even wish us ill.  I certainly did not imagine that cheering throngs would greet us at each village though – we are always welcomed.  I did not expect our goodwill to be taken at face value by all of Pakistan, but we have received immense support.

I have learned in my time here that Pakistani people are truly gracious.  Strangers have invited me for chai and conversation.  Almost anyone will shake my hand and ask my name, inquire about my health and how I am getting along.  Instead of a handshake at our first meeting, I have sometimes been embraced.  “Strangers shake hands,” my new friend Mahmood explained, “but brothers hug each other.”

This warms my heart.  My mission, our mission, is straightforward, noble, and good.  I am deeply grateful to those who support us here, for we need all the help we can get in order to help those in need.   I am honored to do this work. I feel at home here beyond anything I could have expected.

Ah, home!  I miss my home, my wife and family; each day I wonder when I will see them again. But we have a humanitarian mission to accomplish.  Since I must be away, I’m glad that I am here, doing work that’s needed and good.

When I do return home, I will bring with me hundreds of pictures, dozens of journal entries, six duffel bags, and several recipes for local dishes that I have enjoyed, but I will also bring innumerable memories that I will treasure for life — memories of Pakistan and its people.  They have surprised me with friendship.  I hope that through our work of compassion we may surprise them with friendship as well.

john.brockmann

John Bockmann

A former teacher who is living his dream of flying. He and his wife, Katherine, enjoy hiking near their home in Alaska. This is his first deployment.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sarah

    It’s wonderful to see you feel such strong emotions towards Pakistan. The support of the Americans has been overwhelming and I’m so glad you got to experience Pakistan (albeit in dire circumstances)

    Good luck and great job by you, your team and of course our Pakistani troops tooRecommend

  • Bilal

    This is the most beautiful blog post as yet by Tribune. Bless you sir, and you are welcome always to Pakistan, and I personally extend to you the deepest thanks that I can give from us to you. I have tears in my eyes, and really hope that more inspiring stories come to us by brave people such as yourself. Humbly, youre and THANK YOU TRIBUNE for putting out positivity.Recommend

  • http://none Bangash

    Thanks to US for helping Pakistanis in need. I would also encourage the Tribune to keep up the good work, its fresh articles like this which keep me coming to Tribune and make it different from Dawn/The News which are mostly full of politicians “bayans”.Recommend

  • gem

    Your writing has brought tears to my eyes and as cheesy as it may sound, my heart is bursting with pride. You are always welcome here! You are doing something very noble and we are thankful for it. God bless you and your loved ones, God bless Pakistan!Recommend

  • Mubarik Ali

    Dear John Brockmann, God Bless you, your family and America for helping the flood victims in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Adam

    John, Thank you for your service and thank you for helping Pakistan in it’s time of need. God bless Pakistan and God bless the United States. Recommend

  • ocap

    I echo gem’s feelings.

    Thank you for being here and helping out with the relief efforts. Recommend

  • Amirali

    John, thank you again for the humanitarian service. We truly appreciate the good men and women of the United States; brave people such as yourself helping out a poor country. God bless America.Recommend

  • Tippu

    Welcome John.

    And THANK YOU and the great people of the united states!Recommend

  • Sultan Ahmed

    Friendship with selfish
    put the man into hell
    and create such tough circumstances
    as,for example,Pakistan is passing through.Recommend

  • http://Mags Magsi

    lol bro you are preaching here to the choir! please go and tell your media this! ask them to stop vilifying the average Pakistani. I hope you send this to CNN, FOX, etc – they need to know about this. Will they let you publish this there? We allowed it on our newspaper, but would they do it? thats the bigger question, and even a bigger question on the mentalityRecommend

  • M. Z. Syed

    Very nice read. We Pakistani’s love to stereotype people and nations, and this just proves that not every American is George W. Bush or a zionist on a mission. and that they can also feel and care. Thumbs up’Recommend

  • Mahum Munir Ahmed

    It was wonderful to read about your feelings of such strong emotions towards Pakistanis & Pakistan.. The support given by the Americans has been beyond overwhelming and I’m very glad to hear that you gained some insight about the real Pakistani people & got to experience a wee bit of Pakistan too (not in the most favourable of circumstances though).. May the Almighty bless you & all your fellow countrymen who are here helping our destitute nation when it is in such dire straits.. God bless your loved ones too and return you safe & sound to them.. Amen.. You are & will always be welcome in Pakistan.. Your writing has brought tears to many eyes i’m sure and has made many-a-heart swell up with pride.. You are performing a very humane & noble deed and have our whole-hearted appreciation, support & prayers.. Thank you once again John.Recommend

  • Maryam

    John,

    thanks a lot for the help and for putting your feelings into words. u almost brought tears in my eyes.
    we just hope this aftermath of floods comes to an end and displaced people return to their homes and ofcourse you too.
    God Bless you, God Bless Pakistan.Recommend

  • Amad

    John wish you good luck and thanks for the relief efforts GOD bless you…Recommend

  • Jennifer Bailey

    John and fellow aviators: Thanks for the hard work. You are doing a great job showing God’s love to the people around the world!!Recommend

  • Ghausia

    This was just a lovely read. I’ve heard so many people saying that the flood is a godsend for America as the people helping will soon pop up in DHA, having fallen in love with Karachi and then people will start disappearing from homes in the night just for speaking out against America or the the government…Its nice to read something like this. Thank you John, for coming to help us despite being so far from home, God bless you.Recommend

  • Mukarram Ali

    Dear John, thanks for all your efforts and support for us, we shall always remember your hard work, courage and sympathies for Pakistani people, although you are away from your family but we are here with you in all your worries and sorrows. Keep up your good work. Thanks again. Recommend

  • Madeha Farooq

    Thanks John for all the good work done, May GOD bless you with happiness, health.Recommend

  • JohnDoe

    John, Welcome to Pak and hope you have a safe stay here. Thanks for your kind generosity. Pakistanis love the American people for all the good things they stand for.

    Our very best wishes to you and to your family. Recommend

  • Amir Rashid

    God bless you!Recommend

  • Tayyab Raza

    Thanks John :) Recommend

  • wajih

    The comments are moving. It is always educating to know the thoughts of a common person as the statements of the diplomats and politicians are always full of nicities and rehetoric. I am thankful to Pilot John Bockmann for sharing your thoughts. We are also thankful for him and his colleagues for their help and support. I wish well for their wivies and families back home and hope they will join them soon.Recommend

  • ayesha

    *Thank you!*Recommend

  • Atika Naeem

    THANKS JOHN:)Recommend

  • http://www.thejcf.co.uk The James Caan Foundation

    This is beautiful and your support is amazing.

    In July 2010, the first drop of rain fell on the soils of Pakistan. Two months later, over 20 million people have been affected. This is the worst natural disaster globally in recent times.

    Visit http://www.thejcf.co.uk to see what The James Caan Foundation together with aid agencies and key individuals, are doing to also help the people of Pakistan.

    We need to come together and stories like yours are inspiring.

    Follow us also on Twitter @The_JCFRecommend

  • John Bockmann

    I am overwhelmed by the response to this article! So warm and gracious, concerned for my American colleagues and me–even though Pakistan itself is struggling to recover. I wish everyone could come to know Pakistan as I have: a place whose great beauty is matched by its people. Aman. Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/siddiqi88 AhmadAzfaar

    I hope US may keep helping Pakistan and consider Pakistan as a friends not as a toilet tissue paper as people still remember the Help rendered by US in Afghan War and later we were left alone to counter those refugee and AK47 culture that still prevails and due to which we have suffered alotRecommend

  • Shahid Orakzai

    Thanks John for all the good work you have done. Pakistanis are after all human beings and don’t bite . I live in Dubai and got a lot of friends from all over the world. We, Pakistanis are only critical about the foreign policy of the United StatesRecommend

  • Abdullah

    God bless you and may you return home safe and sound . There is a lot in common and a lot to share between common people not only living in U.S and Pakistan but also between people living all over the world.Recommend

  • Dan Bockmann

    John, I can’t tell you how proud I am — both of you as my brother, and of you as an American. I got tears in my eyes while reading your wonderful piece, and tears again from the outpouring of love from the Pakistani people who have commented. I’m glad that for the Pakistanis you’ve met there, you are the face of America. And I hope for a long and lasting friendship between our countries. Thank you, John, and thanks to all the wonderful Pakistani people — you have warmed my heart today!Recommend

  • Bob Bockmann

    Me, too, John — – tears coming to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I love those people, too. What warmth! What love! It streams through their words–words that are more than words–so expressive of appreciation and so affirming of that declaration, “God hath made of one blood all nations.” Love, Dad.Recommend

  • Kat & John Schroer

    We are proud of you, JB! Your article/blog and thoughts warm OUR hearts! We KNOW that you are touching the lives of the people there on a PERSONAL level, just with who you are! Come home soon and bring with you the RICHNESS of God’s blessings with your memories! Thanks for inspiring the love of people in all of us!Recommend

  • Talha

    It’s because of people like Mr John Bockmann that America is such a great country.

    Thank you very much indeed, kind Sir.Recommend

  • Mustafa

    John, I’d like to personally thank you for your efforts and for giving your time for this cause. May Allah reward you and bless your family.

    M.Recommend

  • Waseem

    Thanks John, thanks for helping the us, God bless you n your family. I hope you will also tell your people that Pakistanis are not terrorist. Cheers.Recommend

  • Humanity

    May we all learn to cherish humanity and nurture compassion for out fellow beings. God bless you all, the Bockmann bunch! Recommend

  • FURRUKH WASI

    Thanks alot John .Atleast you portraid real picture of my pakistan & my people.we are the good example of hospitality.If u really feel good to be there then plz tell this truth to media that how pakistan is.Recommend

  • Maggie Bockmann

    John, your words, and those of the wonderfully kind-hearted Pakistanis above give me hope! Could a miracle come so easily? Could peace on earth come through such simple open-heartedness? I thought it had to be hard.

    I’m privileged to know you, to be your mom. And now, through loving you, I find I am loving the Pakistani people in a very personal way, for they are now part of you.

    You beautiful Pakistani people make me cry tears of joy.

    May the God above bless you all and your beautiful country, and bring healing among all nations.Recommend

  • http://karachi.metblogs.com Jamal Shamsi

    *Thank you for being here, Thank you for being honest about US Pakistanis, am sure you will vouch for us as normal people as your countrymen. Almighty keep you safe, and bless you with happiness of your family peace health wisdom, prosperity be with you, your group & your family, *Recommend

  • Nazar Ghulam

    Thank you John and all your group working with you for helping pakistani peoples.God bless you and yours family.Recommend

  • Obedullah khan

    John, I can’t tell you how I felt when I read your comments about my homeland, It really brought tears in my eyes when I read about people embrace you and letting you know that strangers shake hands but brothers embrace. God bless you for every thing you did for people in need. I would like to emphasize on that people in Pakistan are not against Americans in general, but they are against policies of American government which most of the time are against Muslims in general and against Pakistan in particular. We are great full to American Government for providing us aid in this time of need but otherwise we do not want aid but a long term relationship based on mutual interests and confidence. Recommend

  • wajih

    Thank you Maggie for your comments. Mothers are the same around the world. May we have peace all around. Differences between countries are natural as there are between inividuals. The same have to be taken in good stride and resolved in a peacful manner or we may decide to live with them as they may be natural.

    The forces created by historical global rivalries are giving bad name to my country which was otherwise abode of great saints who are equally respected by the people of all religions in South Asia and around. I hope people like John will help better understanding of Pakistan and its people. The mission like the present one should also help remove misgivings visa a vis US and the West in among the people in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Usama Zafar

    Thank you for everything you have done for us we really appreciate it. There is only one more thing which I want you to do. Can you please try to get this article published in an American newspaper? If that seems difficult can you post it on some US blog or something. I want the people in US to read about this as well.Recommend

  • Osama Sehgol
  • Nisar Khan Yousafzai

    yeah it was really a heart warming article. And my request is the same as usama zafar did mention.Recommend

  • Sabeer

    What a read! I’m deeply touched by what you’ve written and equally proud of our Pakistani people for showing you our hospitality. Thank YOU for coming over and doing your bit in this time of our need.

    People like you, people like us, the general masses make us realize how much people-to-people contact can make a difference in hearts and minds. This is a lesson for all of us to stop believing everything the media churns out and feeds our brains through the ‘idiot-box’. This is a lesson to open our hearts to eachother, respecting the differences and finding the commonalities.

    I agree our foreign policies may make both the countries seem crude, insensitive, selfish and heartless. But one thing is for sure – humans, people like you, caring individuals live here aswell as there. Not everybody with white skin is going to ‘bomb us to the stone age’ and not every brown skinned person is a hostile terrorist.

    Once again… Thank you, JohnRecommend

  • Tahera

    John and Maggie…thank you for your lovely posts.

    Maggie, you must be so proud, and rightly so! John’s sincere post speaks volumes of the values he obviously grew up with at home for which we are grateful to you. More power to parents like you who teach their children to question prejudice and think with an open mind.

    John, it is easy to see why the Pakistani people responded to you so warmly – you have been open and honest with them, you came not with bombs but with care packages and you recounted your experiences without bias or distortions. The American media generally portrays Pakistanis as monsters – for the actions of a few criminals who ought to be condemned by one and all, 170 million warm, simple folks get labelled with unfair generalizations. You have challenged that notion.

    With your honesty and open-mindedness you have won the hearts of all those who either benefitted from your help, read your post, or merely heard about your experiences from others. Like Greg Mortensen who has opened many schools for the poor in Pakistan and Afghanistan since 2003, you have earned a special place that no amount of political manipulations can ever manage. Drone attacks with a 90% failure rate cannot make the US safer – well-intentioned and sincere endeavours like yours can. You are so right: work of compassion does have an enduring effect.

    As you return home and sit comfortably with your family, please don’t forget the valuable lesson you just learnt: everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

    It would be wonderful if you could get this post or any other like it published by a major media source for the general American public to read. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times might be one such contact as he is quite fair and unbiased in his approach to sensitive issues. The Pakistani people would apprecite very much for the world to start seeing them for who they are. Recommend

  • Tahera

    @Maggie Bockmann:
    @Dan Bockmann:
    @Bob Bockmann:

    Warm wishes for the Bockmanns. What a truly American family! Recommend

  • Maggie Bockmann

    Wajih, thank you. I find your words particularly wise.

    Tahera, thank you also, but I assure you, I scarcely comprehend where this delightful soul named John might have come from. As Gibran said,

    “Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
    You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

    I trust John will not mind my telling you that in the early days of our family, we had a particularly heartbreaking religious fracture between his dad and myself. But now, by the grace of God, we are strong in all the weak places.

    Thus shall it be between Christians and Muslims, your country and mine: despite the heartbreaking fractures, we shall become strong in all the weak places, and no government policies, no misguided violent people shall prevent it, because God wills it, whether we call him Allah or Jehovah, and we will it, with all our hearts. We shall support each other while respecting our differences.

    And though I understand from this newspaper that some of your countrymen support the U.S. drone attacks, and I’m sure they have compelling reasons, which I shall not judge, I want you to know that I am willing to suffer whatever I must suffer to stand with the Pakistani people against such heartbreaking attacks, for no Pakistani child is worth one whit less that any American child, and mothers are the same around the world, as Wajih said.

    As Kathy Kelly so poignantly says in this video, no Pakistani children should be quaking in their beds at night for fear of what devastation my countrymen may visit on them from the sky.

    CIA Drone Protest, Kathy Kelly – 1/16/2010

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5rnP_g8CIE

    For those who disagree, please forgive me, for I do not mean to be contentious. I am but a mother with a mother’s heart. That is my weakness and that is my power.Recommend

  • Bob Bockmann

    Thank you, Tahera—and all the rest of you who have blessed us with your words of grace. Since arriving there, John has said this deployment is an experience he would pay money to have if it weren’t already being provided for him by the U.S. Army. I know he already misses his young wife greatly, but you all are being wonderful family to him. He LOVES getting to know you, to hug you, to share a cup of tea with you. Thank you so much.Recommend

  • http://theterrorland.blogspot.com Rehman

    Big brother, thank you for coming to our poor country with rich, corrupt and criminal ruling class! The people of Pakistan are basically innocent and peaceful but our government and establishment are deceiving both of us!!

    The people-to-people contact should go on besides US pressure on our government and establishment to mend their criminal ways, and serve our poor nation!!!Recommend

  • rehan

    Well done the Bockmanns..God bless you all.John..stop being stingy,and get your family airtickets so that they can fly over here too..and help you too..and help us..and help us repay back your kindness and hardwork.:)Recommend

  • Yaldrum

    I have been to Swat recently. With out a doubt it is one of the most beautiful place on this planet and the people that live in those valleys are even more beautiful. Their hospitality is some thing I have never witnessed in any other part of this country.
    Many of them appreciate what Americans are doing there for them, and I can say is thankyou.
    BUT having said that have not forgot about Afia or the drone attacks. Recommend

  • Munis Quadri

    Very nice to see such a blog entry :) and thank youRecommend

  • Munis Quadri

    Thank you ! May Allah bless JohnRecommend

  • zahid

    thanks jhony………..thank u so muchfor ur support.Recommend

  • http://cyberdera.com Umair

    love you john and i hope u will tell people that we are marred by the same terrorism everyone else is Recommend

  • Maggie Bockmann

    Rehan, there is nothing I would like better than to come over to see your beautiful country and help in flood recovery any way I could. I see why John feels at home among such openhearted people.

    I hope his article will help dispel the unfortunate mischaracterization of the Pakistani people propagated by the media.

    Yaldrum, nor can I forget the drone attacks, which grieve my heart immensely.

    I am much encouraged by this development:

    “By all accounts, the Creech 14 trial is the first time in history an American judge has allowed a trial to touch on possible motivations of anti-drone protesters.”

    http://blogs.lasvegascitylife.com/cityblog/2010/09/14/vegas-drone-trial-makes-history/Recommend

  • HaCaN

    John your thoughts are really very wounder full and believe me i am not at all surprised by what ever you said, i know they are from your heart and they are just straight. And i am saying this thing so confidently because i have seen you guys doing wonderful job (Being one of your safety pilot). I appreciate your comments and the way you looked at stuff around here in Pakistan.You are a good man and your words prove this.Recommend

  • April Worf

    John, your dad gave me a link to your article. My heart is strangely warmed to hear in your written word the love of God reaching out to your fellow man. There are no eloquent words on my tongue to express what I think and feel as I read and contemplate what you’ve shared. I will say I feel sadness at having missed out on your growing up and getting to know you from a child on up to the present. Yet, it is a great blessing to get to know you a bit through your article, and to hear of the great work you are able to be a part of in Pakistan. Years ago, when I was in high school at Auburn Academy, I had a pastor friend who had been in Pakistan as a missionary. He taught me a few words of greeting that we would call out to each other in the hallway (or wherever). I gained a certain love for the Pakistani people through his love for them.

    To the Pakistani people who are reading this I want to say….I’m so glad you have tenderhearted, Americans reaching out to bless you in your time of need. God bless you with His wonderful mercy, love and grace. My prayers are with you all.Recommend

  • IZ

    A wonderful article. I wanted to thank the author for the difference he is making in the lives of many Pakistanis. Once all the politicking is set aside, its people like you who will bridge the gap between different peoples and places.

    Also, I hope you get the opportunity to contribute more posts to the Express Tribune Blog.Recommend

  • Asad

    strong textThanks for your support and expressing what you fealt being here in Pakistan.I am sure you are not the only American to have such feelings for us having been amongst us.Since I have been to the States as well for a couple of times at Fort Benning and CMC NM let me tell you that i also found you guys very caring and extremely nice people to live with.Of course we have differences of opinion,culture,perceptions and traditions but we are essentially being mislead by intellectuals and persons who can write well to misguide people without having requisite knowledge ,respect and desire to extend similar rights and priveleges to the other nations and individuals what they wish for themselves and their country.Recommend

  • http://None Johnny Sadiq

    A superb and heart warming blog that gives everyone that ‘feel good’ glow!
    In the 1970s the Punjab was afflicted by bad floods and many people were trapped and dying. I was commanding a B720 from Lahore to Karachi and was delayed for 45 minutes in my landing at Karachi by nine C141 USAF jet transports in the landing pattern with poor R/T discipline. I thought that they were on their way to Viet Nam and I confronted the USAF crews in the PIA Operations office to give them a piece of my mind. The officer commanding was a captain Tolar Bryan and, after I had said my piece, he tiredly informed me that they had come all the way from South Carolina, with a fuelling stop in Spain, to help with the flood situation–no rest or proper sleep for 24 hours! I apologised for my remarks but they would not let me go. They wanted me to brief them on the area. as they were to start high pressure relief operations on the following day. I did that and then took as many of them as I could to my home for dinner. We became friends and you would be hard put to find better and more warm hearted people on this benighted planet of ours. During this time I flew a B707 to Lahore on a morning flight and was surprised to see Tolar and his officers assisting in manual labour the USAF enlisted men, who were rolling much needed fuel drums out of the C141s. They were bare to the waist–probably not to display their rank insignia. I asked Tolar why the officers were doing this and he replied that ,when lives were at stake, no one should care about job designation or rank. I am proud to say that they were royally looked after by the PIA pilots in Karachi when they were off duty and I asked our scheduling people to keep me on local flights so that we could interact with these unsung heroes. John Bockmann and his fellow crews are heroes of the same ilk but, like the 1970s USAF crews, they would never consider themselves in that light. I salute you, John, and all of you who came to help us in our hour of need. May you always be protected by ‘the Man Upstairs’ when you fly, and don’t forget to check the ‘Jesus Nut before setting out on your chopper (I wonder if they still call it that?)
    Happy landings!
    Johnny
    (Capt. J. Sadiq retd. and still training pilots on the Sim to fly the B747 at 72 years old!)Recommend

  • Wazir

    FOX has made it their agenda to spread hate against the Muslims.The Tea Party is spreading Islamaphobia in United States.I am sure after all theat negative brain washing it must be a surprise to actually meet with the people of Pakistan and realize at the end of the day they are good people.Recommend

  • Nusi Jamil

    Dear John Bockmann, like every one else, reading your blog also brought tears to my eyes!
    Well done, a very big thank you and more power to you and all your colleagues,officers working 24/7 in Pakistan.
    I was doing relief distribution work in Khwazakhela (Swat) and saw myself the heroic work you guys are doing.
    In fact I flew to Kalam and back on 1 such chopper and shook hands with the US Marines for doing an amazing job.
    All Pakistanis should be grateful for what you guys are doing.
    You will be the best ambassadors for Pakistan after seeing for yourself that the majority of the people of this country are generous and warm and peaceful! Thank you…..Recommend

  • http://pakpotpourri@googlegroups.com zubair

    I have read scores oof such letters from individuals about Pakistan. I do wish, however, that the US administration would have the same feelings about the people who live and suffer in their non-NATO ally. Suffer because of US and its agencies.Recommend

  • John Bockmann

    Amazing. I know the hearts of many Pakistanis now, but I am still surprised by their outpouring of warmth–especially in such hard times. I read all of the comments–the stories, the blessings, the frustrations–and I am increasingly convinced that international relations are effected more by common people like you and me than by politicians who may never get a chance to have tea and real conversation with “the other side”. I am so privileged to be so well loved while I am so far from home. God’s blessings on Pakistan and her people.Recommend

  • Engr Syed

    Ten people like the pilot who is in the picture in worlds each decision making cabinet-agency-organization etc can change the total scenario of the world

    All shall be happy and shall lead a very contended life

    All is reqd is loving sharing and caring in this world

    The more u give to others the more u do good deeds and help mankind Almighty says THAT IS THE PERSON WHO IS THE ONE THAT NEEDS MY BLESSINGS AND TELLS THE ANGELS PROTECT HIM AND SHOWER HIM WITH ALL THE BLESSINGS OF MINE

    LIFE ON THIS EARTH FOR A HUMAN BEING IS JUST OF 27 SECONDS REST IS IN PARADISE IF U THINK FEEL AND LOVE AS THE PILOT IN THE SNAP

    AND 1 DAY IN PARADISE IS EQUAL TO 50K YEARS

    MAY ALMIGHTY SHOWER HIS BLESSINGS ON U AND UR WHOLE FAMILY MY DEAR PILOT

    AMEN

    ENGR SYEDRecommend

  • Ali

    Thanks a lot brother. I wish that all humans are like you. God bless you.Recommend

  • Charles Cameron (hipbone)

    I’ve blogged about John Bockmann’s post and the richly moving posts in this comments section — which strike me as illustrating the very best of what the internet allows us that would previously have been unthinkable — here:

    http://www.smartmobs.com/2010/10/18/the-diplomacy-of-caring/
    http://zenpundit.com/?p=3570

    I hope the word gets out…

    My grateful thanks to John, his family, and all who have responded here.Recommend

  • Asad

    Thanks for your support and expressing what you fealt being here in Pakistan.I am sure you are not the only American to have such feelings for us having been amongst us.Since I have been to the States as well for a couple of times at Fort Benning and CMC NM let me tell you that i also found you guys very caring and extremely nice people to live with.Of course we have differences of opinion,culture,perceptions and traditions but we are essentially being mislead by intellectuals and persons who can write well to misguide people without having requisite knowledge ,respect and desire to extend similar rights and priveleges to the other nations and individuals what they wish for themselves and their country.
    .Recommend

  • Salman Rashid

    This is to say Thank you very much, John Bockmann! Thank you for coming out to help us when we needed help the most. Thank you for your courage to take this bold step when we, the people of Pakistan, have come to be known only as terrorists with bombs under our shirts. Thank you. But most of all, I want to thank you for writing this blog to tell the world what we are made of: And we are made of love, tenderness, affection. We, most of us at least, are as human as the next man. We know kindness when we see it and we appreciate it. Thank you most of all for telling the world that we are real human beings.Recommend

  • Tahera

    Charles, thanks for your blog. I hope someone somewhere is paying attention to the diplomacy opf caring and devising a strategy for peace. When people have so much warmth to share, who needs wars?!

    If peaceful people stand together, the negative forces within communtiies can be challenged more effectively. John and all those like him are beacons of hope and a source of strength for all those who believe in the live and let live approach and want to give their children a better tomorrow. And they are certainly in majority.

    The future of children everywhere is sacred. It is everyone’s responsibility. The policy-makers and planners of strategies at the highest levels of power need to conceive better strategies if they are serious about pursuing goals of peace. If the little girl who had to grow up with a picture in the frame instead of the warm parental embrace she yearned for in one part of the world demands her right to that protection, a little boy in another part of the world also mourns a family he lost to the roaring sound of an unseen enemy that calls itself a freind. Who is responsible for their tragic share and changed perceptions as they grow up hating each other for no fault of their own? How does that help the cause of peace?

    There has to be another way. We must find it. Together. And soon. After all, a decade of hate hasn’t done anyone much favour.Recommend

  • Ibrahim

    Thanks Mr. John Bockmann for your support firstly for coming to us in times of need and secondly for writing about your experience. This article and your support has done great service to the people of Pakistan. We Pakistanis are not as bad as portrayed by the media. The people of Pakistan minus the politicians are good. I have been to many parts of the world and you would not find such hospitality in many countries.
    Take care and may GOD bless you and your family.Recommend

  • Aatif

    Ahan, This is what we want to show the world, the true picture of Pakistan and the true hospitality of Pakistani people. Thanks a lot, people like you are always welcome. I wish more and more people come across this article or Pakistan itself to see the reality by their own. I also wish that next time you come, you see a better, recovered Pakistan.

    Peace for all !!!Recommend

  • Mohsin

    Dear John Bockmann,
    I received an email from a dear friend of mine containing your story. It brought tears in my eyes as well. My chest suddenly became twice as big and my heart pushed out to write and thank you for helping my country and acknowledging our values. Then I saw your blog and it showed me that Pakistan is alive and strong. What you expressed was not only your honest experience about us but also showed what wonderful family you belong to, their parenting and and the values they have instilled in you; to simply write and boldly share, what you feel as a human, with us. Mankind requires this ability and you have delivered. Your words are the true measure of Pakistan and I am proud and happy that you came here with an open heart, experienced and posted them with your true heart.
    Every tear drop caused by your story returns a bottle of blessings and mercy for you and your family. I have been educated in USA and have closely and generally experienced similar Pakistani culture of love, warmth, caring and sharing. Pakistanis like the Americans are basically good people with humanity in their genes. You allowed us to share this with you as well. God bless the Bockmanns for producing a wonderful child. God bless America and God bless Pakistan. Recommend

  • http://mackhan.wordpress.com/ Keith

    Glad to see a fellow American express the same sentiments I feel towards Pak. Been there 6 times and the people have always been gracious hosts. Keep up the great work!Recommend

  • Saifur Rahman

    USA should be doing more of this and less of what they are doing in Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Shoaib Faruqi

    Sir, admire and salute your courage and selflessness, leaving the comfort and security of your home and country and going out of the way to help my struggling nation.
    I pray for for your safe return and success in every aspect of life.
    Godspeed! Recommend

  • uzma

    Thx for being there for the poors of Pakistan may Allah bless you and your family for this and keep all of you in His protection Ameen Recommend

  • Obaid

    a big wow ! such a nice read that was and comments posted here are pretty enlightening too. Thanks John, do bring your family some day too, we will throw a party for them :) Recommend

  • HKhan

    Thank you John for all the hard work and love you are showing to pakistani people. I also want to congratulate your parents for doing a fantastic job in raising you up. I am a pakistani living in US. Hats off for your work!!! the work I havent done for my country….God Bless you!!! have a very safe stay and come back soon, ur family sure misses you….Recommend

  • Maken

    This is awesome …A US soldier, on a noble humanitarian mission, is happily surprised to discover the warmth of friendship from Pakistanis..This is the true character of a nation which is unfortunately labeled to be associated with anything bad happening anywhere on the globe, John, thank you for your telling your feeling honestly and candidly. Thank you for restoring our respect and dignity. I wish more Americans could read this article. After a long time, I am feeling proud to call myself a Pakistani American…. Recommend

  • Abdul Haseeb

    Well the real problem is behavior of the governments of the countries. Your country violates our sovereignty almost everyday and then you think by such gestures we would forget all that. We have nothing against american people but your government ain’t particularly friendly. Recommend

  • Faheem Baig

    Thank you Americans for your kind assistance and support for Pakistani people.Let other Americans know the real face of Pakistan.Cheers!!Recommend

  • Imtiaz Hussain

    Thanks a lot brother and also please paas this friendly msg to your people also when you will to your mother land. Tell them that all pakistanies are terorist, mostly people are friendly, helping and sincere.

    ThanksRecommend

  • Shoaib Rehman

    I have no doubt in my mind that Americans are good people. They are always helped every nation in dire need. USA is a country which is giving voice to everybody. Thank you for your help.
    Thank you John Bockmann for adding value in life of Pakistani peoples. We appreciate it. Recommend

  • RB

    Maggie Bockmann
    I agree, all mothers are the same and children are the same. It does and should not matter what the color, caste, creed or relegion they may belong to. world would be so much nicer place, if we could only learn to treat each other as HUMANS. I know that, it is not about Americans or Pakistanis, it is all about being a good human being. It is infact the lust for superamacy and power, which drives us crazy….and totally blind to feeling and emotions of others. I am sure people like John exist in all countries, however, the problem is that such feelings and incidences are not promoted and projected. we often get carried away by the hype that media creates. I do hope that sanity in individuals will incraese and we as individuals will some day become a force bigger than those, who are apparantly increasing the divides …among nationsRecommend

  • Maggie Bockmann

    RB said: “I do hope that sanity in individuals will incraese and we as individuals will some day become a force bigger than those, who are apparantly increasing the divides …among nations.”

    RB, as John said, “… I am increasingly convinced that international relations are effected more by common people like you and me than by politicians who may never get a chance to have tea and real conversation with “the other side”.”

    Charles Cameron coined the term, “the diplomacy of caring,” and I believe this blog is an example of a groundswell, unstoppable, idea whose time has come.

    As Charles said, “This is what’s best in our common humanity — hearts and minds – they’re not won, they open. And this is what’s best about the internet — this possibility.”

    These open hearts and minds are the richest untapped resource, and power source, on the planet, I believe.

    I’ll go and not comment more, but not without thanking the Pakistani people again for their kindness, warmth and hospitality for John, which I now understand is characteristic of the Pakistani people as a whole. Here come the tears again….

    Obaid, I am so looking forward to that party! :)

    .Recommend

  • Ali Jafari

    Dear John,

    I wonder if you’d get to read this. I read the account of your help mission to Pakistan only today (23rd Oct 2010). We are all grateful to you for enduring separation from your loved ones, flying in very difficult mountainous regions, rescuing people and carrying food to the displaced. I live in Pakistan, however, I have been visiting the US since 1970 for business as well as pleasure. I have always admired the people of your country for their friendliness, hospitality and compassion for people in distress. You have reinforced that belief yet again by your personal endeavor. Thank you! You and your family are welcome to be my guest whenever you wish to enjoy the majestic Karakorum Mountains and its idyllic valleys. I live in Islamabad and you’d be my guest. Please feel free to get my email address from the Herald Tribune

    Ali JafariRecommend

  • http://www.yahoo.com asimkhan

    a special thanks to the american government for sending their troupes for the relief of flood victims of PAK. We need people like this with brave heart. Only an human can help an human.Recommend

  • Mariam

    Thank u so much for all the work u did for the people of Pakistan.We need the people like u in ur government aswell..Bring ur family next time to this lovely land and to give another chance for the hospitality. Thank u again JhoneRecommend

  • Kashif

    Thanks Major for helping us when we needed the most specially by letting people what we really are….thanks again, wish you a safe trip back home Recommend

  • Haidre

    That’s exactly what and how we, Pakistanis are, John. Come close and you will always find us simple, sincere, nice and understanding, just like you American PEOPLE. Our image has been distorted by groups, organizations and dogmas injected into our country by our ‘friends’ like Saudi Arab, Iran and Afghanistan, of course with the active connivance of a handful of vested interests people within us. Please tell your people to help us get rid of these imported menaces and their sponsors here and you will find us a nation of peace loving people only looking forward to a safe and prosperous future for our children.Recommend

  • Linda

    God Blessed you all for doing such a humanitarian work and especially because you have seen the results (love and compassion) from others towards you guys and this is also teaching you guys and us a lesson to love and be compassionate to others. Hugs to all of you! May God Bless you All! Thanks for giving your lives to serve those that need you the most! :). We are very proud of you!Recommend

  • Obaid Mirza

    Thank you John. We admire your efforts and sentiments. Americans are one of the best people in the world. I have experienced in United States that the US Government and its media has misled the general public so much away from the reality that a very distorted picture about Pakistan is presented to them. Reality is what you have personally seen and experienced. Unfortunately, Pakistan is a victim of follies of our own leaders and quagmired in the international power game. I only wish if American leaders could start thinking of winning the heart and souls of people of Paklistan instead creating more hatred through blatent use of POWER. Instead of spending trillion of dollors and getting American soldiers killed, thus creating hatred and crippling US economy, better would be to get involved in Pakistan’s development without strings. You would find more sincere friend everywhere instead of hatred. Let us make the World a more safer place to live. Thank you again John and May Allah Bless you and your Family. Recommend

  • farheen

    Thank you John for being so honest about your feelings.No matter how many times I read your story,every time there were tears in my eyes.You have so simply and beautifully written about your experience that I have no words how to express gratitude for showing this side of Pakistan.May God keep you safe! Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Hello to all Bokmanns,
    Your help and support is much appreciated. We all owe you big time. We Pakistanis have no words to thank you and I truly wish all of you a blessed and happy life.
    Whenever in need we shall alway be there to help you. Like Mahmood said we are brothers now and bothers are always there for each other.

    Maggie, John, Bob and Dan you are always welcome in our country.Recommend

  • irshad

    @Sarah:
    GOD BLESS ALL OF YOURecommend