HomeNewsArticle Display

Team Seymour Airman chosen to attend State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush addressed the nation Jan. 23 for his annual State of the Union address, Airmen around the world listened via television, radio or the Internet. But one Airman from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., watched from inside the U.S. Capitol building where the president gave his speech.

Tech. Sgt. Michelle Barefield, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, was invited to attend the State of the Union address as a guest of the president. She was one of five military members, one from each service, to attend.

"I was honored that somebody thought I would make a good representative for the Air Force," Sergeant Barefield said. "It was kind of overwhelming when you think about how many military members there are and that I was selected to attend."

Sergeant Barefield, her husband and her older daughter began their time in the Nation's Capital with a trip to the White House where they met with senior White House staffers. Later, she was transported to the U.S. Capitol Building to listen to the president's address. She sat in a special seating area with First Lady Laura Bush.

"The best part for me was meeting Mrs. Cheney and Mrs. Bush," Sergeant Barefield said. "They were very pleasant and asked all kinds of questions. They made us feel welcome, definitely."

Sergeant Barefield was chosen to attend the address in part for her performance a year earlier while deployed to Iraq. Within days of arriving in the country, she and her EOD unit were dispatched to dispose of an improvised explosive device. During that mission, an IED exploded killing one of her teammates and injuring another.

In response to the explosion, Sergeant Barefield put her military training into action. She immediately provided first aid to the injured Airman and then took control of the scene. She organized the sweep for additional hazards, ran the post-blast analysis of the device and oversaw the recovery of her fallen comrade's remains.

That first tragedy was but harbinger of things to come for Sergeant Barefield in Iraq. During her deployment she endured three separate attacks, took part in a gun battle with insurgents and managed the scene after the death of her EOD comrade. She received the Bronze Star for her actions in Iraq.

In all three situations she reacted with skill and professionalism, something she attributes to her military training.

"Everything I learned in my career was useful in those situations," she said. "I was one of the lucky ones, I came out unscathed. The training ... regardless of what you think of training in peacetime at home station ... can apply when you are put in a situation like that."

Sergeant Barefield also said she thinks it is important for her and others to pass their experiences on to new Airmen so they can be prepared for their time overseas.

"I want to tell new Airmen coming into EOD especially: talk to the people who have gone over there and see what they experienced and learn from then," she said. "You never really know what you will encounter. Even going through the training before hand, you can't imagine how it is going to be. So if you talk to people who have been there you may be more prepared."
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.