Base chaplains help cool things down for flightline Airmen

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AFB, N.C. -- As part of the base chapel's flightline outreach ministry, base chaplains and chapel assistants are constantly visiting the Airmen on the flightline to perform informal needs assessments to gather information to build up morale. The base chapel recently handed out popsicles to Airmen who fly and maintain the aircraft during the North Carolina summer heat.

"We want to make sure our Airmen are not physically and spiritually over exerted," Chaplain (Capt.) Ronnelle Armstrong said. "We ask Airmen if they are taking the work/rest cycles breaks. We also want to make sure they are staying hydrated."
This is also a way for the chaplains to interact with the Airmen on the flightline and let them know that the wing leadership sees, knows and appreciates what they are doing on a day-to-day basis.

"We send Airmen a message that they are valued and appreciated," Chaplain Armstrong said. "Without breaking confidentiality, we advise commanders on morale and how these issues may be affecting the Airmen."

Events like this have been going on since the chaplain's office was formed; however, certain events are geared toward the summer months. Other chapel-sponsored events on the flightline included the first ever 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron children's day.

More than 200 Airmen and their families from AMXS participated in the activities. Another event was the 4th Maintenance Operations Squadron appreciation/fun day; to celebrate more than 365 days without an alcohol-related incident. The chapel sponsored a picnic for the 4th Component Maintenance Squadron in recognition of all that they do on the flightline. In February, there was a "burger burn" for AMXS Airmen who performed weekend duty, and more recently in June, they held an appreciation/fun day for the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron.

According to Chaplain Armstrong, none of these events would have been possible without the support of the wing chaplain Maj. Gary Ziccardi and the rest of the chapel staff, to include the religious support team.

"I would like to say that Airman 1st Class Addie Ozuna, chaplain assistant, made it possible for us to even give out the popsicles," Chaplain Armstrong said. "A1C Ozuna and all of the Chaplain Assistants work extended hours to make things happen for the Chaplain Service to include this ministry."

The chaplain goes on to say that the squadron commanders play a key role as well. Without the support of the squadron commanders, the chaplains wouldn't even have the opportunity to reach the Airmen.

"If passing out popsicles will place a smile on the faces of the Airmen, if only for a brief moment, then the event is a smashing success," Chaplain Armstrong said. "The time that we spend talking with the Airmen enables us to develop relationships with them on a personal level.

Our ministry of presence communicates to the Airmen that the chapel team is available to them at all times, even in 100 degree heat."