Commentary

December 21, 2012

In hurricane’s wake, cynic learns lesson

by Shawn J. Jones
514th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — Prior to Hurricane Sandy, I thought the Air Force’s wingman concept was just a gimmick that encouraged Airmen to poke their noses into my business, or worse, required me to poke my nose into someone else’s business.

For goodness sake, I thought, can’t an Airman just have a bad day without another Airman trying to help? Do these nose-pokers really care, or are they just doing their duty so when the next tragedy happens, no one will call them bad wingmen?

Personally, I doubted their motivation and sincerity.

You could have called me a cynic then, but not now. No, sir, I am reformed. It just took a natural disaster of historic proportions for me to learn the lesson.

Thank you very much Hurricane Sandy, or more appropriately, my gratitude should be directed to the reservists of the 514th Air Mobility Wing.

Many of these Airmen live in and around the areas that were devastated by the hurricane and while many were victims, more were wingmen and heroes.

When one senior noncommissioned officer’s home was gutted by floodwaters, he faced a recovery process that would require many hours of hard labor. However, in the days that followed the storm, Airmen from his squadron started showing up at his door, ready to work. Several helped day after day, providing the labor and support to keep their fellow Airman from becoming overwhelmed.

I was impressed by his selfless wingmen, but we’re talking about a senior, full-time employee of a Reserve squadron. Of course, the wingmen show up to help him, right?

Yes, but no. Wingmen are not just for the full-time crowd in this wing. When Airmen in another unit learned that one of their traditional reservists, who was taking care of his family (including several young children and his elderly parents), had lost power and whose food supplies were dwindling, they were quick to act. An on-the-spot fundraiser yielded $400, which was immediately used to purchase food and supplies for the grateful Airman.

I thought I was starting to get this wingman concept. Airmen will help Airmen regardless of whether they serve in full-time positions or as traditional reservists. If you’ve got a uniform, you’ve got a wingman, right?

Yes, but no. Having a uniform had nothing to do with it.

With her husband off fighting a war in a faraway land, one pregnant military spouse remained trapped in her apartment building as flood waters began to fill the lower floors. The wing’s Airmen & Family Readiness office continuously communicated with her and the spouses of other deployed Airmen before, during and after the hurricane. Her needs weren’t neglected just because she was separated from her Airman husband.

Okay, okay, I get it. I work for a unique wing with an abnormal supply of selflessness.

Yes, but no. The selflessness is in high supply, but that’s not unique to this wing.

Several days after the hurricane, a letter arrived containing a significant donation for the Airmen who were affected by the hurricane. It came from Airmen from another wing in another part of the country. They saw the need to help fellow Airmen without needing to know the names or see the faces of those who would benefit from their generosity.

Well, I have learned my lesson. There are many good wingmen wearing Air Force blue and they are willing to help full-time Airmen, part-time Airmen, the spouses of Airmen, Airmen they know well and Airmen they do not know at all.

No longer will I look so skeptically upon the nose-pokers known as wingmen.

I have seen it paid forward and if the situation calls for it, I too will be a nose poker.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Linda Welz

March Field Emergency Fire Services engineer remains calm at accident scene

U.S. Air Force photo/Linda Welz Engineer Mark Hanenberger, March Field Emergency Fire Services, March Air Reserve Base, shows the gloves he keeps in his personal vehicle in case of an emergency, which proved to be the case when...
 
 

Fourth of July fireworks safety tips

Many cities and communities in or near Riverside County provide spectacular fireworks displays for their residents. The operators of these displays are licensed and have permits issued by the State Fire Marshal. As a reminder (other than the licensed and permitted operators mentioned above), all fireworks (including sparklers) are illegal in Riverside County because they cause...
 
 
Mackenzie-Welz

How being a military dependent helped me prepare for my future

“You’re going to be the man of the house now,” are the words one may hear a military father tell his son before deployment. However, it’s different when the mom is the one leaving her daughter because of a deployment. S...
 

 
Watchara Phomicinda/LA Daily News staff photographer

Honor Guard members bury those who served

Watchara Phomicinda/LA Daily News staff photographer Members of the Blue Eagles Honor Guard practice with their training rifle at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. The new trainees must compl...
 
 
Vets-Access

Veteran’s Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014

Compliance by State – Map There is a recent change in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (“Choice Act”) that relates to the GI Bill Resident Rate Requirements. These new requirements will ensur...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer

March Airman prepares for marksman competition

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer Staff Sgt. Rodger E. Scrivner, communications specialist, 452nd Communications Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, participates in target practice at the Los Angeles Rifle and...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>