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AFAS helps Airmen say goodbye

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, GERMANY -- The second to the last day of my temporary duty assignment to a squadron training exercise started like the rest, but ended leaving me feeling anxious and scared. That evening after we had ended the exercise, an instructor told me that I needed to call my wife.

Of course I was glad to call her because I hadn't heard her voice for a week, however since an instructor had approached me about calling her, I knew it was rather important.

When I called her the first thing she asked was, "Are you sitting down?" Whenever my wife asks me this question it usually means she has something very important to tell me and I need to pay attention. I told her to tell me what was wrong; she said my brother called because my grandmother was admitted to the hospital. My grandmother suffered a heart attack. Since I was very close to my grandmother this news made my heart sink into my stomach. I still had a day left in the field so I asked her to keep me informed, letting her know I would call as soon as I returned from the exercise.

Knowing that my grandmother was a diabetic, I understood that anything adversely affecting her heart could not be good. She already had two triple bypass surgeries, so I knew there wasn't much that could be done.

With a heavy heart when returned from my TDY, I called home to check the status of my grandma. My mom told me that she actually had the heart attack about a day prior to being admitted. She then assured me that my grandmother was doing as well as could be expected and her spirits were high. I talked to my mom for a few minutes and I could hear her voice lightening as if the sense of urgency was gone. So I asked her to keep me posted and to call me immediately if anything else happens.
Around 5 a.m. the next day, a family member called me, I forget who exactly because I was so upset, to inform me that my grandmother had a second heart attack and passed away. I hung up the phone and began weeping like a baby. While my wife tired her best to console me all I had on my mind was the fact that I absolutely had to get home to attend the funeral. We had no savings and even my entire paycheck wouldn't have been enough to cover the expense of a no notice plane trip home to the states.

Out of desperation and after I managed to somewhat collect myself, I called my first sergeant at around 6 a.m. I explained the situation to him and he immediately contacted the Airman and Family Readiness Center to begin Air Force Aid Society loan process. The folks at the A&FRC wasted no time at all. Bill Triplett was there almost immediately waiting as my wife and I arrived. He helped us with the process and my wife to able was come with me, too.

Thanks to the Air Force Aid Society loan, I was able to attend my dear grandmother's funeral and be with my family. Certainly without the Air Force Aid Society there would have been no way I would have been able to get home. I am a firm supporter of the Air Force Aid Society and can only imagine how many more lives they could impact with just such a small monthly paycheck allotment. I owe them my deepest gratitude and my most sincere thanks.