A place for Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natasha E. Stannard
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Twelve Airmen and a supervisor from various squadrons here arrived at the Clark Fork River in Montana, July 8. They suited up in their vests and helmets and loaded the bus en route to their adventure. The Airmen departed the bus to meet their river guides then entered their large yellow rafts. The journey covered about 12 miles and lasted about five hours. The Airmen battled class three rapids on this journey. The waves crashed into the rafts as they sped through the river. They not only rowed through the rapids and waves, but they also took on other rafters with their arsenal of water guns supplied with the rafts. 

While the battle royale ensued between rafters, rapids, and waves, some Airmen spent their time relaxing in the back of the rafts to enjoy the green scenery, wildlife and large clouds that filled the blue sky. Half way through the Airmen stopped for lunch on a peninsula. 

The rest of their white-water rafting trip with Pangaea Rafting Company in Superior, Mont., was very mellow as they enjoyed the scenery of birds including bald eagles soaring through the blue sky. Once the adventure through the water ended, they reloaded onto the buses, dropped off their gear and headed off to a dinner at Jameson Saloon, a historic restaurant in Wallace, Idaho. 

This trip is the most recent of many activities Bob Griffing, Fairchild Single Airman Ministry coordinator, and Capt. Erik Harp, Chaplain, put on for Fairchild dorm residents. Griffing and Chaplain Harp work along with Airmen to plan trips for the Fairchild Airman Ministry Center, which is located in the Airmen's Lounge here. 

The Fairchild Airmen Ministry Center is based on an Air Force-wide template. Many chapels at bases around the world have Airmen Ministry Centers, which are special outreach centers to single Airmen E-1 through E-4. Airmen Ministry Centers have sprung up at almost every base and deployed site offering vastly different types of ministries, services and levels of spiritual care. The purpose is for the Chaplains to reach out to the Airmen not just within the four walls of the chapel, but where the Airmen live and work, said Chaplain Harp. 

"Being there for the Airmen in any environment inside and outside of church lets the Airmen know the chaplains are there for them and their door is always open," Chaplain Harp said. "Today we engage in ministry that seeks to reach beyond the walls of our chapels." 

The Ministry Center not only reaches out to Airmen, but it also provides the Airmen a means to express spiritual seeking through fun wholesome activities like laser tag and white-water rafting. Chaplain Harp feels there is a spiritual component in the heart of a war fighter. The FAMC is here to help make that component healthy and strong in any way they can, whether it be through activities, prayer, or simply talking. The Ministry fits the chapel's core mission to be there for people of any faith or no faith at all, Chaplain Harp Said.

Airman 1st Class Aaron Davis, public health technician, 92nd Aero Medical Dental Sqaudron, is a dorm resident that has been on three trips with the FAMC including the white water rafting trip. 

"The purpose behind the ministry services is not to force religion," Airman Davis said. "In my three trips, religion didn't come up at all; the purpose is simply to boost morale and for the Chaplain to be available if anyone should want to speak to him about anything." 

The FAMC offers at least one activity a month, and at least one service project on base or off base per quarter. This creates a great way for new Airmen, especially the ones without a vehicle, to get to know people. It also contributes to their well-being. It serves the Airmen with a good way to establish networks of healthy lasting relationships, which supports the wingman culture. The FAMC can help start the process of Airmen taking care of one another and supporting one another, Griffing said. 

The FAMC supports the wingman concept and Airmen Leadership. The Core Team within the FAMC is made of Airmen and community members. The Core Team develops activities and service projects conducted by the Ministry Center. The only qualification needed to be a core member is to want to serve the well-being of fellow Airmen. The Core Team is a great way for Airmen from various squadrons to come together and work as a team adding strength and unity to the community, Chaplain Harp said. 

"The Core Team gets Airmen motivated and involved with organizing and making events possible," Griffing said. "They share in the leadership, execution and planning of the activity. " 

The Fairchild Airman Ministry Center is here for Airmen. It helps Airmen develop networks of relationships and gives them the opportunity to become involved with serving the on and off base communities. If an Airman is seeking spiritual guidance they can gain that through any means they chose through the center. It is an effort that brings the base together to help develop, fund and support activities for single Airmen, said Griffing. 

"I was able to make new friends and meet people with different views and personalities," said Airman Davis. "The best part is good fellowship and time away from the dorms and the only thing you have to contribute is your time; it doesn't cost a thing to Airmen."