On Wingmanship: Surgical Services Flight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Travis Beihl
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Many service members see wingmanship as helping to prevent fellow Airmen from making bad decisions.

To the 81st Medical Group’s Surgical Services Flight it meant helping a member of their team after they were involved in an altercation that put their young child’s life in danger.

“We had a flight member who had a domestic problem with their spouse,” said Maj. Jeremiah Samson, 81st Surgical Services commander. “A Keesler couple had an altercation and the child was involved and injured. As soon as we learned about the incident, we first determined what the big steps necessary for the safety of the member and the member’s child were.”

The child was rushed to a hospital in Alabama for care. Surgical flight members took turns traveling back and forth to Alabama to make sure their teammate was doing okay and also to check on the welfare of the child.

“As the medical condition of the child became more stable, we focused more on insuring their safety,” said Samson. We worked with the squadron commander and they worked closely with wing leadership so we were ultimately able to secure a home for the individual here inside base.”

The move was not easy to coordinate; however, with the help of surgical services leadership they were able to expedite the process.

“We are a very tight-knit group,” said Master Sgt. Mack McCarthy, 81st Surgical Services flight chief. “Without the wing and squadron commander being there and getting things done with foresight and fast tracking it, the move wouldn’t have happened as quickly.”

With the flight volunteering their time to help move their teammate from their old house to their new one, and leadership helping along the way, the entire move was completed quickly.

“With the help of the flight, it only took 3 hours to move the active duty members’ belongings from their old house to the new one,” Samson said.

Flight leadership doesn’t take credit for any of the plan to help their wingman in need, Samson added. The entire team stepped up to coordinate the move and helped put care packages together.

The Airman’s parents were taken aback by how his Air Force family came together during this time of need.

“The family was overwhelmed with the support that the Air Force had given their grandson,” said Master Sgt. Jamie Cleveland, Physical Therapy Element NCO in charge.

With so much support being given to the member, the surgical services flight was feeling the weight of their missing teammate but managed to keep up with their mission and provide uninterrupted care to their patients.

“As medical providers, if one of us is out it’s not just stress on the team, but patients could potentially have a negative result,” said Samson. “Once our team knew what happened, they immediately knew and were asking ‘What can we do to pick up the slack here?’.”

The team came together, formed a plan, and ensured not one patient went without medical care.

“We worked our schedules so we didn’t have to cancel patient appointments,” said Samson. “Everyone still received their treatment, and there was no detriment to the medical mission due to everyone’s selflessness in stepping up.”

The way the flight and their leadership, both at the squadron and wing level, came together to help support an Airman and their child in need was a testament to the Air Force core values and wingman culture.

“It was humbling to me that all these airmen were able to react the way they did,” said McCarthy. “They gave up their personal time and were willing to get the job done. We looked at it as a mission. The mission is number one in the Air Force and at that point in time our teammate was our number one mission.”