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Fairchild welcomes first Gold Star Family member

Tracy Finck, Fairchild’s first Gold Star Family member, stands with Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, Aug. 3, 2017 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. The GSF program is for family members of Airmen who were killed in action during international terrorist attacks against the U.S., in a friendly foreign nation, or during military operations while serving outside the U.S. (Courtesy Photo)

Tracy Finck, Fairchild’s first Gold Star Family member, stands with Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, Aug. 3, 2017 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. The GSF program is for family members of Airmen who were killed in action during international terrorist attacks against the U.S., in a friendly foreign nation, or during military operations while serving outside the U.S. (Courtesy Photo)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- 75 minutes.

That’s about how long Airmen tried to resuscitate their wingman on a Forward Operating Base in Syria. The result being a fallen Airman and a mother who lost her son.

Family members like Tracy Finck, are the people the Air Force’s Gold Star Family program initiative aims to keep a part of an extended Air Force family, providing support for them even after their Airman’s passing.

“The Gold Star Family program is amazing and I know this is something that my son would have wanted for me,” said Finck, Fairchild’s first GSF member. “In a way, it’s a continuation of his life and I feel closer to him every day because of it.”

The GSF program is for family members of Airmen who were killed in action during international terrorist attacks against the U.S., in a friendly foreign nation, or during military operations while serving outside the U.S., said Bekki Juarez, 92nd Force Support Squadron Air Force Family Forever program manager, and Fairchild’s GSF program manager.

Eligible family members are set to receive a letter with information on how to become a GSF member. If they choose to take part in the program, they will receive a base access identification card.

Although base access does not authorize holders to use recreational facilities, commissaries or base exchanges, it does provide them unescorted access to Air Force installations for base events and to receive support through the Airmen and Family Readiness center, said Juarez.

“This program is another way to pay respect to our fallen heroes and their families,” said Juarez. “Providing this connection to the Air Force is really good for the healing process and keeps people in touch with lost loved ones.”

Fairchild is currently one of roughly 20 Air Force installations that have recently joined the program initiative which started in May 2017. Prior to application of this program, family members had to be escorted onto installations by verified base access identification card holders.

For more information on the Gold Star Family program, contact the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at (509) 247-2246.