by 2nd Lt. Harry Kehs
3rd Aerial Port Squadron
10/8/2013 – POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The 3rd Aerial Port Squadron gathered for what seemed to be another alcohol awareness lecture here on Oct 2. However, despite past briefings that were downward-directed from leadership, this conversation was led by Airmen for Airmen. Organized by the squadron’s Noncommissioned Officer’s Council, the event recreated the timeline of a troubled night. It began with the sound of ping pong balls clinking off red solo cups and ended with red and blue lights flashing in the rear view mirror. It was the story of how one bad decision can alter the course of many lives.
“It was incredibly real, and it really painted the entire picture,” said Senior Airman Justin Hanvey, an information controller with the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron. In response to a charge from their commander, the NCO Council aggressively addressed a series of recent alcohol related incidents. They invited several expert briefers to illustrate the effects of alcohol misuse, driving while impaired, and the associated consequences to an individual’s career, family, and society. The dialogue began with an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment briefing from Master Sergeant David Moore, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant, who addressed the scientific significance of alcohol and its resulting impairment on the body.
An alcohol impairment simulation followed with Staff Sergeant Brittany Murphy, a Joint inspector and load planner with the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron, wearing beer goggles and riding a bicycle. Failing to stay between the lines, she was intercepted by North Carolina State Highway Patrolman, Trooper Jimmy Williams. Utilizing over 30 years of experience, Trooper Williams described the process of a DWI stop, debunked myths, and shared narratives from various incidents with offenders. The legal outcomes of DWI were then explained by Staff Sergeant William Haston, a military justice paralegal from the 43rd Airlift Group.
Perhaps the most powerful moment came when Mr. John Templeton from Dunedin, Fla., shared his sobering story. Convicted of vehicular manslaughter and now an advocate against drunk driving, Mr. Templeton recalled his involvement in an incident that resulted in the death of an 18 year-old female. Mr. Templeton’s account hit close to home as he is a cousin of Airman 1st Class Joseph Kenyon, a passenger services agent from the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron.
“It was important for us to cover the whole gamut of possibilities regarding driving under the influence,” explained TSgt Javier Orozco, President of the NCO Council. “We wanted our Airmen to be subjected to the full palate of consequences resulting from a bad decision and instill a mentality of humility to the fact that no one is invincible. I know John [Templeton] delivered that impact.”
The attempt to curb such a frequent and perplexing problem might seem daunting. According to the FBI’s crime statistics, 1.2 million people were arrested for driving under the influence in 2011. In response, commanders continue to address the crisis and cultivate an attitude of responsibility. “While the problem is societal in nature and we are not immune, the importance of safeguarding personnel remains our number one priority,” said Major Joseph Whittington, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron commander. “Events like this emphasize the effort to eliminate these occurrences through education and information. Our NCOs exemplify leadership, and I am proud of their initiative to continue this conversation and shape our Airmen.”