Putting others first

May 6 2010 - 11:20am

Images

SMSgt. Matt Halter, of the 388 MOS, talks with “Ron” a Vietnam veteran
as the lunch crowd slows. (Mary Lou Gorny)
SSgt Lucila Sanchez, SMSgt Matt Halter and MSgt Rich Magoni, all of the 388 MOS, perform clean up duty.
Volunteers Troy Nelson and mom Linda Perkins pause as Nelson praises his mom’s work. SAirman Steven Sees on the food line.
MSgt. Rich Magoni, points out someone who needs service to SMSgt. Matt Halter, both of the 388th MOS. (Mary Lou Gorny)
Master Sgt. James Thomas, of the 419 CES, sweeps up as tables are put away and clean up begins. (Mary Lou Gorny)
SMSgt. Matt Halter, of the 388 MOS, talks with “Ron” a Vietnam veteran
as the lunch crowd slows. (Mary Lou Gorny)
SSgt Lucila Sanchez, SMSgt Matt Halter and MSgt Rich Magoni, all of the 388 MOS, perform clean up duty.
Volunteers Troy Nelson and mom Linda Perkins pause as Nelson praises his mom’s work. SAirman Steven Sees on the food line.
MSgt. Rich Magoni, points out someone who needs service to SMSgt. Matt Halter, both of the 388th MOS. (Mary Lou Gorny)
Master Sgt. James Thomas, of the 419 CES, sweeps up as tables are put away and clean up begins. (Mary Lou Gorny)

At the soup kitchen, a few patrons paused long enough to talk to the Airmen and ask why they were there. One even joked with a technical sergeant asking her what she had done to upset someone so she had been assigned this kind of duty. Her reply that she had volunteered to do so matched the respectful tone and quiet, matter-of-fact service of the other Air Force personnel and the mood seemed to spread the honor of their service to those in the crowd assembled around them.

"The people that were there, despite losing a lot of things, they never lost their manners and they never lost their sense of dignity," Horgan said, as he talked about his sense of the experience afterward. "They shared that with the Airmen. They treated them with the dignity that they possessed and they expressed the gratitude that they always had in their heart even in the midst of losing everything ..."

Such experiences help expand the focus beyond the usual routine of paying attention to only those things within one's immediate sphere, Horgan said. "It just reminds us that there is a world beyond our own world, too ... We have to be cognizant of the people around us."

An expansion of the Air Force "Core Value," he said, "It's in giving that we receive."

On reflection, Horgan did say there were a few things that gave him pause. "I think what surprised me the most were the amount of people there and the ages and the families -- the young kids.

"It really was heartbreaking for me and I know it was for others, to see the kids like that ... The best thing that I could give them was my love and the best thing that the Airmen could give them was their love and that was love in action."

Horgan said he would like to repeat the opportunity for others to give service, and he is working on setting up a key group of programs in the community so that Airmen can also experience a wider sense of what surrounds them. The opportunity will be passed down from Chief Master Sgt. David Nordel, Ogden Air Logistics Center and 75th Air Base Wing command chief, through the chiefs and ultimately to first shirts and then to others at the unit level.

"Long-term, not only does it benefit the individuals themselves, but it also helps them to help other people down the road, that (the Airmen) will know what's out there. Airmen helping Airmen - that they would know what resources are out there in the community to help ...

"I know we have an organized Chaplain Corps in the military, but everybody's chaplain to everybody else ... The best chaplains are the ones that walk alongside us each day," he continued.

Sometimes, he said, the military experience can be very lonely for some, and sometimes we need to be reminded that it's important to take the initiative, the risk to reach out.

"That's going to make us better Airmen -- and ultimately better people."

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