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Deployed in Chile
Staff Sgt. Michael Reese, 62nd Force Support Squadron, organizes paperwork as part of a commander's support staff in a tent in Chile following the earthquake that struck the country recently. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)
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The right stuff: McChord Field Airman gets it done in Chile

Posted 3/24/2010   Updated 3/26/2010 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Kirsten Wicker
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/24/2010 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- On Feb. 27, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile, leaving hundreds dead and 1.5 million displaced from their homes. The country was in a heap of rubble.

While international relief organizations leapt to provide aid, the U.S. Air Force also began planning to provide humanitarian relief similar to the task in Haiti recently. Air crews went into stand-by and flew missions into Chile.

While the air mission is critical, Air Mobility Command needed another type of Airman on duty and the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord Field answered the call.

"We received the tasking from AMC on short notice," said Master Sgt. Jason Bairos, 62nd Force Support Squadron, noncommissioned officer in charge of installation personnel readiness. "Basically they needed a commander's support staff in place quickly and efficiently."

Staff Sgt. Michael Reese, 62nd FSS, stepped up to the task and before he knew it, he was on his way to Chile.

"My primary duty is accountability, ensuring that each day each person is accounted for and reporting if there are any changes to any duty status while here," he said. "I'm a deployed commander's support staff and I work mostly with medical personnel."

Getting there was the easy part. Now Sergeant Reese has a busy day that starts early every morning at the field hospital. He signs in medical technicians, doctors, nurses and other administrative personnel. He checks statistics and attends meetings, keeping informed on the day to day happenings.

"I check everyone in and make sure they are accounted for," he said. "When my tasks are finished, sometimes I will go to the emergency room just to observe what they do, talk to the Chileans we work with and just help out wherever I can."

Sergeant Reese also prepares a newsletter called The Daily Buzz in Chile. He uses the newsletter to distribute important information around to everyone working there.

"This has been a learning experience for me," said Sergeant Reese. "This is my first deployment and my first humanitarian mission, but the best part is meeting so many different people, other Airmen and Chilean military personnel and civilians."

I knew I'd be satisfied helping others, he added.

While Sergeant Reese is living in basic training style barracks on the Chilean Army Base with bunk beds and open bays, he still has a dining facility where he can get a hot meal. When he does get the opportunity to go off base, Sergeant Reese enjoys the local flavors.

"We went to a museum and a local park, but they best part was the grocery store," he said. "I had ice cream, rotisserie chicken, chips, pastries, I loved it."

Sergeant Reese will continue his work in Chile until he gets the call to return home.

"We are proud to have Sergeant Reese representing us," Sergeant Bairos said. "He is the only Airman from McChord Field staying in country as a deployed member and he is doing a great job."

3/25/2010 5:38:05 PM ET
Staff Sgt. Michael Reese you are very appreciated Helping others is a reward in itself. I am proud of you.
Tamika Morgan, Milwaukee WI
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