• Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
I once knew a guy named Tim.

I saw him in the halls at school, had class with him and occasionally chatted with him about homework assignments. 

But I never knew how much he loved to play basketball or go swimming. I never really knew him at all.

All I remember when I think of Tim is how they found his body in the woods near a highway.

Tim liked to drink. He liked to drink and drive his car down the empty interstate at night. He was doing nearly 80 miles per hour when he lost control and the car slid along the road before roaring through a guard rail. The car travelled for about 20 feet before crashing head-on into a tree.

Tim's passenger was killed instantly.

Tim, who was not wearing his seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle. His body flew through the woods so fast the tree branches he struck literally tore the clothes off him.

The responding paramedics said he was alive until he came in contact with a branch, which separated his head from the rest of his body.

And because Tim didn't consider the consequences of his actions, the only thing I'll remember about him is that he was a reckless drunk.

Every time I drive by the sign at the front gate of Ellsworth displaying the number of days the base has gone without an Airman incurring a charge for driving under the influence, I shake my head in amazement.

How can we demonstrate the utmost military bearing as members of the world's greatest Air Force when we can't even make a responsible choice not to drink and drive?

There are so many options Airmen have if they find themselves in a bad situation. They can call a wingman, use the SAFE-ride program, or even call their supervisor or first sergeant. All of the options available are means to prevent Airmen from ending up like Tim.

I really want to see the number at the front gate climb into the triple digits and beyond. I want to remember my wingmen for the stories they tell, the awards they've won and the people they've helped. I don't want to remember them for being torn to shreds and decapitated by trees because they were too stupid to wear their seatbelt and too drunk to drive.

We have a responsibility to ourselves, our wingmen and our country to remember how far we've come as American Airmen and how much we can achieve if we make safe and smart decisions.