Families away from home: Continuing wingman concept during holidays

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Gathering around a table full of food with friends and family, watching parades on television and listening to children's laughter in the background -- for many families, these are all familiar activities during the holiday season.

For many Airmen, however, the chance to return home for the holidays may not be possible. While wingmanship should always be a priority, it is especially significant during the holidays.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. John Danser, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, said its imperative Airmen don't overlook each other in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

"Being a wingman during the holidays is important because we have to look out for each other and make sure everyone is taken care of," Danser said. "Not everyone has somewhere to go during the holidays. It's important to be there for them."

Chaplain (Capt.) Joel Kornegay agrees with Danser, saying holidays are typically family oriented and a time to enjoy the company of loved ones.

"Holidays are historically designed to be celebrated with family. If an Airman can't be near their family it's important that we become that family," Kornegay said. "If someone spends the holidays [by themselves], they can feel as though they are on the outside and alone."

Feelings like this can lead to frustration and even eventual depression if not taken care of, said Kornegay.

Friends and co-workers are the first line of defense, said Danser, who encourages Airmen to engage and interact with co-workers who seem down. While not everyone will be able to invite those without a place to celebrate to their home, there are resources available to those in need, he said.

"The dining facility on base offers special meals during the holidays, and there are normally things like parades and other events going on in the community," Danser said. "Being a wingman means being there for someone not only when they are up, but when they may be down as well."

Airman 1st Class Robert Long, 1st Operations Support Squadron operations intelligence analyst technician, remembered his first holiday away from home.

"When I was in technical school, I was able to go home for the holidays, but [since arriving at Langley] I've not been able to go home [for the holidays]," Long said. "My leadership and supervisor invited me over [for the holidays] to ensure I had [somewhere to go]."

This gesture by leadership left a lasting impression on Long.

"It was nice to know that others cared about me on a personal level and not just while I'm at work," Long said. "It gave me a stronger sense of a family environment both at and outside of work."

Long hopes to follow that example of being a good wingman and plans on organizing a dinner or event in the future for people who are unable to go home for the holidays.

"I think it's important that we spend time around other people during the holidays," Long said. "It's not only good for morale, but shows you that you're not alone."

Long, Danser and Kornegay agree it is important to not spend the holidays alone for us all to act as wingman and take care of each other during this time of year.