Be there when your Wingman needs you the most

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob Jimenez
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
On an August afternoon, following a day of fishing, hanging out with friends and drinking a few beers, a McChord Field Airman began his drive home only to be stopped by the flashing lights of a police car.

Senior Airman Clayton Horne, 7th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, learned from the officer that he'd been pulled over for a faulty brake light, but after the officer had spotted an empty beer can in the back of his truck, Horne was ordered to undergo a breathalyzer test. Horne's fun-filled day then took a turn for the worse when he was issued a citation for a driving under the influence.

"I was stressing out and wondering if I was going to get kicked out of the Air Force," said Horne. "I also worried about losing rank, getting my driver's license suspended and not being about to get to work. I was thinking about what I'd get charged with and where I was going to find the money for a lawyer. But the biggest stress I had was how I was going to turn this around."

Horne immediately contacted his supervisor to let him know what happened. His supervisor's first phone call was to the acting first sergeant, Master Sgt. Marc Allen, 7th AS loadmaster superintendent.

Alan said from that point on, he made it a priority to assist Horne in any way possible.

"The one thing he didn't do was snap at me," said Horne. "He was more worried about my well-being than the situation I was in. He wanted to make sure I was okay and made suggestions on people who could help me. He said to call him anytime, day or night, if I needed anything or just someone to talk to."

Horne said the DUI couldn't have happened at a worse time as his squadron was about to deploy, and having a pending legal issue prevented him from joining them. Being overwhelmed, stressed out and watching his squadron deploy without him, he struggled to keep a positive attitude.

"There was a lot of emotional and physical stress of letting people down and losing sleep over it," said Horne.

Allen regularly followed-up with Horne and made sure he had a support system.

"It's important to not let them feel isolated after a mistake," said Allen. "We never left him alone and we made it a priority to support him throughout the situation."

Horne said it was encouraging to know that Allen genuinely cared about him.

"Master Sergeant Allen told me to put one foot in front of the other and turn this around," said Horne. "He told me not to take on too much at one time, but to focus on what I have in front of me and take it one day at a time. He played a key part in helping me overcome the situation."

Through Allen's leadership and mentorship, Horne was able to begin the process of bouncing back.

"He helped me get back on track," said Horne. "He just kept me calm throughout the whole thing. Having him there helped me keep a positive attitude and make the best of the situation."

Horne now uses his experience to help other Airmen going through similar situations.

"Clayton did well," said Allen. "He realized he made a mistake, we supported him and he moved on to overcome it. I couldn't be more proud of him."