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Two ordinary Airmen become heroes

(U.S. Air Force graphic)

(U.S. Air Force graphic)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

On a Saturday afternoon, two Airmen were in downtown Sumter at brunch when a woman meandered in. Following a few trying encounters of her yelling at the waitresses, this woman pushed past the Airmen and took her emotions elsewhere.

Little did the Airmen know, in just a few minutes, they would encounter her again in a much more severe situation, and had they not happened upon this situation a pastor may not have had the opportunity to hang his hat that night.  

After Senior Airman Deziree Harp and Airman 1st Class Rachael Hoffman, 20th Force Support Squadron customer service technicians, left their place of dining, they drove by the same woman to see her brutally assaulting a priest. Hoffman noticed the encounter and told Harp to turn the car around so they could help.

They promptly called the police. Following the alert to authorities, the woman came upon the idea of charging at unassuming church goers with a steel pot in hand, which she presumably found sometime after the restaurant encounter. She flung it at the car and it bounced off. The Airmen did a lap around the church to avoid harm and came back to see the woman in handcuffs.

The reverend, Marcus Kaisser Sr.’s vestments were bloodied on his arms as he lifted them to pray with everyone in the parking lot, as the woman had been taken away, the Airmen said.  

“This occurrence made me feel really sad for the woman,” said Hoffman. “I know she wasn’t in her right mind and must have gone through so much to feel that angry and aggressive. I also wish I could have done more to defend the pastor and the man from being stabbed. I feel I didn’t do enough.”

Harp agreed and said she wished she had gotten out of the car sooner.

One week later, as the event weighed heavy on their minds, mulling over what they could have done better, the Airmen decided to stop by the church with flowers for the priest.

“The military definitely has broadened my perspective on the importance of helping others,” said Hoffman. “You just never know what someone else is going through. I believe small actions can have big impacts.”

Lt. Col. Heath McKim, 20th FSS commander, later commended both Airmen after he learned of their actions.

“God is good, and good people are out there,” said Kaisser who is now able to continue his journey as a community leader, while preaching countless sermons to his parishioners.