Airman finds peace in hiking

Courtesy photograph

Staff Sgt. Brando Sompie, 56th Force Support Squadron readiness & mortuary affairs technician, takes in the view after hiking the Grand Canyon Oct. 15, 2016 at Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. Sompie began hiking during high school and continues to set foot onto countless hiking trails.

Some Airmen reduce stress after duty-hours playing video games and competing in sports to de-stress and recharge.

For Staff Sgt. Brando Sompie, 56th Force Support Squadron readiness & mortuary affairs technician at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., hiking is his way of decompressing.

Sompie’s job is split up into two sections: readiness which takes care of personnel who are on deployment and temporary duty orders, and mortuary affairs which handles death cases involving active duty personnel and retirees at Luke and in the local area.

Mortuary affairs is more stressful according to Sompie.

“The stress comes and goes, but it does affect you emotionally if you know the person,” Sompie said. “When you meet the family and loved ones of the deceased member to notify them they have passed away, it’s difficult.  Sometimes it gets overwhelming. Overall, I’m extremely honored to be working in this career field. It definitely has taught me a lot.”

With both duties keeping Sompie busy, it’s hard to find time to relax and unwind, but when he does, he goes hiking.

“My love of hiking started after I graduated from high school,” Sompie said. “It was a pretty easy hike, but the views were amazing. I knew right then and there, I wanted to make hiking a part of my life.”

It wasn’t until Sompie came to Luke Air Force Base that he became heavily involved in hiking.

“It was a blessing for me to be stationed here at Luke, because it’s surrounded with so many hiking opportunities,” he said. “It’s a fresh experience every time. Hiking is my stress reliever and continues to keep me level-headed.”

Sompie’s hiking experience took him all over Arizona. From Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, he spent countless hours climbing hills and reaching incredible heights, but he never did it alone.

“I always make sure to have a wingman with me whenever I hike,” Sompie said. “Even the most experienced hikers have a partner with them.”
He’s conquered the Grand Canyon, now Sompie has his eyes set on other heights.

“My goal is to visit at least one more national park before move to Germany next year,” he said. “I have my mind set on Yosemite National Park in California.  That would be a great finish to my hiking journey.”

Hiking relaxes Sompie and gets him ready to take on any obstacle. With guidance from his peers and leadership, Sompie hopes to make a great impression as he transitions to Germany.

“He’s a great guy with a good attitude and is proficient at what he does,” said Tech Sgt. Michael Stoner, 56th FSS readiness & mortuary affairs flight chief. “His overall personality and his work ethic will be missed as he makes the journey to Germany. I have no doubt Sompie will be an outstanding NCO wherever he goes.”