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Family affair: Squadron aids Airman’s family in Puerto Rico

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- On Sept. 20, Puerto Rico was struck by Hurricane Maria, which caused major damage and economic devastation to the country. It left families without homes, water and electricity. The hurricane also disconnected loved ones, leaving families that are oceans apart in a state of worry.

Airman 1st Class Mineisha Gomez-Fink, 22nd Operations Support Squadron host aviation resource manager, focused on her work while she struggled to make contact with her family in Puerto Rico after the hurricane.

“It was a trying time to watch my Airman trying to contact her family for days and not hear anything,” said Master Sgt. Ieaka Olmstead, 22nd OSS host aviation resource management superintendent. “When she finally made contact, it was like a sigh of relief.”

Gomez-Fink knew that she wanted to visit her family after making contact with them and decided to take leave around Thanksgiving.

“I jokingly told her that she had to send me a list of donations to help before I’d approve her leave,” Olmstead said. “I felt that as leaders, we could come together and do something special for her.”

Gomez-Fink provided a small, but helpful, list of items needed, and Olmstead brought her idea to the 22nd OSS leadership soon after she received it. This list and an idea from a thoughtful supervisor proved to have a major effect on the Airman’s life.

By coming together and providing supplies, the 22nd OSS showed a lot of support in helping Gomez-Fink and giving to the people of Puerto Rico.

The supplies consist of water-purifying tablets, batteries and other items to help during the power-outage crisis. Olmstead was able to hide the supplies from Gomez-Fink until Nov. 2, which was when she surprised her with the news and showed her how much larger her small list had grown.

“I was surprised that she was willing to do all of that for me,” said Gomez-Fink. “It means a lot. I really didn’t think it was going to happen — I thought she was going to forget about it, and I would have to buy all of the stuff.”

Airmen are continuing to stop and visit Olmstead with supplies and gifts to help Gomez-Fink’s family endure the conditions in Puerto Rico.

“I’m really grateful,” said Gomez-Fink. “I remember Master Sgt. Olmstead told me once that at some point, the Air Force was going to do so much for me and my family that I’m not going to want to leave, and I think that this is definitely one of those situations.”