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178th Fighter Wing serves Michigan community during annual training

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Michael Gibson
  • 178th Fighter Wing
178th Fighter Wing Airmen took time during their annual training to make a positive impact in Alpena, Mich. by providing volunteer service throughout the community, Aug. 1, 2013.

The wing coordinated with Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society and three hospice care organizations to provide services including house restoration, animal care and honoring Veterans.

"We wanted to do a service project while we were out here." said Lt. Col. Dan Sutch, 125th Intelligence Squadron commander. "It's important that we have a reputation that when we go someplace, we leave it better than how we found it."

Wing members worked on two houses with Habitat for Humanity in Alpena's southern corridor of Route 23.

"The south corridor is the gateway to the city coming from the south," said Steve Palowman, a local business owner and volunteer. "The township doesn't really have the extra money to spend so we take it upon ourselves to do some work and make it look better, and with your guys work it makes it a little bit easier."

Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Green, 125th IS supervisor, coordinated with Habitat for Humanity on the project and said there were more than 50 Airmen who participated throughout the day.

"It was just amazing to get out here this morning and see all these people, it's wonderful," said Don Duval, from Taking Pride in Alpena, South Corridor, who collaborated with Habitat for Humanity for the project. "You guys are doing a fantastic job and you're not even from our state - that's even more amazing."

Gary Parteka, Taking Pride in Alpena co-founder, said that this was the first time a military unit assisted them with their project. "You guys being out of state and coming here and volunteering to do this - this is great. We can't thank you enough."

"This project is building hope, cleaning things up, brightening things up and bringing hope and positive attitudes around the community," said Stacy Todd, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity in Northeast Michigan.

The 178th Airmen were pleased to participate in the project.

"I'm pretty content to be out here right now," said Staff Sgt. Travis Johnson from the 125th IS. This was his second time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

Senior Airman Khristyna Luna, from the 178th Force Support Squadron, said it felt good to know that she was able to come out and make a difference in the area.

"I volunteered with a lot of other friends -- people with the 178th," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Overstreet, 178th Communications Flight. "I feel like with everything Alpena has given to us, it's definitely a good opportunity to come out and reach out to the community."

2nd Lt. Dave Hess, 125th IS, said that this gave him the opportunity to build some of the ties with people he works with while giving back to the community.

"We wanted to give back to the community while we were out here at the Alpena training site," said 2nd Lt. Timothy Webb, 125th IS. "Habitat for Humanity is definitely a good cause so I decided to come here and give back to the community."

Honoring Veterans

Approximately 25 178th Airmen volunteered to honor Veterans through ceremonies at the hospice centers of Tender Care Green View, Tender Care Alpena and Turning Brook of Alpena.
The event included a flag folding ceremony and a National Anthem performance by Senior Airman Cassi Pittman from the 125th IS. The audience unexpectedly joined in her performance by singing the anthem with her.

"It was cool to hear them singing along with the National Anthem," said Tech. Sgt. Dawn Evans, 178th Logistics Readiness Squadron, who coordinated this event.

2nd Lt. Pete Herrmann and Tech. Sgt. Ben Marshall, from the 126th IS, conducted the flag folding ceremony.

After the ceremony, the Airmen mingled with the Veterans.

"They really enjoyed seeing the Veteran's interact with them," said Evans. "You get a feel for how much they appreciate us taking the time to get out and do this."

Humane Society

In addition to the other two activities, approximately nine Airmen volunteered to assist the Humane Society.

Volunteers walked dogs, as well as mowed and cleaned up their play areas.

"Everyone had a really good time," said Master Sgt. Andrea Fisher. "They were really appreciative and asked for us to come back next year."