Pararescueman embodies Service Before Self

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Frankie D. Moore
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force pararescuemen play a very important role in the U.S. Air Force mission by recovering and providing medical care to isolated personnel in combat zones. They have a monumental responsibility to uphold the Air Force Core Value of “Service before self.” One Airman decided to go above and beyond this core value by spending his final day in Arizona educating high school students about the pararescue mission and the importance of the Air Force Core Values and having a good education.

Rather than spend his last day relaxing and preparing to move to his next installation, Staff Sgt. Gary, 48th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, transported various forms of medical and extrication equipment to Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona. He displayed the equipment to three sports medicine and emergency medical service classes and explained the importance of each instrument. After his explanation, Gary allowed students to examine the tools.

“I consider it a great honor and my civic duty to mentor the next generation,” Gary said.

He went on to state that he enjoyed doing fun activities during class time when he was in high school and wanted to extend the same courtesy to these classes.

The students tried on his tactical helmet, were shown how to operate a hydraulic combination spreader and carried one another around in a collapsible hand litter among other things. Some students received tourniquets as a souvenir from his visit.

“As soon as the kids realized I was there to help and have a fun time, they warmed up quickly and had no problem carrying me around in a Talon Litter,” Gary said. “The best part of the experience was being able to take that five minutes at the end of the lesson and discuss The Air Force Core Values and encourage them to choose their friends wisely.”

Gary’s discussion of the Air Force and friendship may have been short, but his words were powerful. Students became engaged in the conversation and wanted to know more about the advice that Gary had to offer.

“It’s so important for guest speakers with great messages to come and talk to the kids,” said Michael Labrecque, Buena High School Emergency Medical Services teacher. “It’s great for the students to get such positive messages, especially with the climate of the world lately.”

Though this was Gary’s last day mentoring students in Arizona, he plans to do more school visits in the future.

“Our schedules are generally chalk full of deployments, temporary duty assignments and local area training. But when we get a chance to give back, we do,” Gary said. “Not only do I want to do other visits, but I want to further refine and improve the experience, constantly bettering the product so the students get the best experience.”

Gary’s dedication to giving back to the community speaks volumes to his character and dedication to the Air Force Core Values.

“The students need to be encouraged to do the right thing for the sake of it being the right thing, keep their head on a swivel and help others out, work hard in school and surround themselves with positive people,” Gary said.