Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Warrior Stories provide voice for Airmen

(U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson) Maj. Elis Salamone, 21st Medical Group women’s health nurse practitioner, gives a presentation Feb. 17 in The Club about her deployment to Afghanistan. Salamone’s briefing was part of the first Warrior Stories, a new program sponsored by the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron that gives Airmen a chance to tell their deployment stories.

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Every deployment comes with a different story to tell — that is, if Airmen have the opportunity to tell it.

To give Airmen a place to share their stories, the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron is sponsoring Warrior Stories, a new, quarterly event.

Maj. Jim Lovewell, 21st LRS commander, brought the idea to Peterson from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, and gave the project to 1st Lt. Leanne Babcock, 21st LRS regional quality assurance director.

The Airmen that Babcock approached about being the first to present at Warrior Stories were interested but hesitant. Some had never shared their stories before.

“They all wanted the opportunity to be able to brief, but they didn’t know how comfortable they felt doing it in front of an audience,” Babcock said. “What I did to help them was say, ‘I’m going to provide you with this (outline). I’m giving you 10 slides. I just want pictures and captions.’”

And so Feb. 17, seven Airmen presented their stories through words, photos and videos to their families, peers, cadets and commanders at the Club during Peterson’s first Warrior Stories.

“We can provide a venue for people who are coming back from their deployments to talk about what they did,” Babcock said.

Despite the various deployment locations, the stories contained common themes. The Airmen all shared the sentiment to be prepared for anything.

Maj. Elis Salamone, 21st Medical Group women’s health nurse practitioner, deployed to Afghanistan thinking she would be part of a female treatment team, but ended up being the camp medic and treating more children and trauma victims than women.

Most of the patients she treated were Afghan nationals, including patients who had been planting improvised explosive devices when they detonated. “As a human being, that’s hard. You have a conflict. Ethically, I have to take care of them because I’m medical,” she said.

Staff Sgt. Whit Young, military working dog handler, has deployed three times. His most recent deployment to Iraq was the first time he’s taken his dog. “Instead of walking behind the dog team, a little bit safer for me, now I’m in the very front line looking for the IEDs,” he said.

Young and his dog Max were doing a routine presence patrol when Max started showing signs that he detected something. “What Max located was about 30 mortars. It wasn’t something we were expecting to find at all,” Young said. “It was a routine foot patrol, but what Max taught me that day is nothing’s ever routine.”

The Airmen also had experiences working jointly with other branches of the military and military members from other countries, including Australia and England.

Young said, “Working with the Army is a completely different experience. Other services do things differently.”

While different branches have different procedures, one of the lessons to be taken away, Babcock said, is that those who deploy from Peterson make a difference. “I want (the audience) to know that we do work here, we do deploy and our jobs are important. If you look at what we do as a total force, Peterson makes (an impact) at all the deployed locations,” she said.

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