News>Through Airmen's Eyes: Airman enlists father's help to improve KAF
Staff Sgt. Michael Newman and Staff Sgt. Kristy Wolfmayer, both deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., fold the flag during a retreat ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug 4, 2012. Newman and Wolfmayer are assigned to the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell )
The U.S. flag flies high above the contingency aeromedical staging facility at Kandahar Airfield, Affghanistan, Aug. 4, 2012. The CASF is responsible for transporting patients in and out of Kandahar Airfield who are injured or wounded from a forward operating base, combat outpost or even more remote locations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
Airmen from the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron form up prior to the retreat ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 4, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
Airmen with the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron bow their heads in prayer during a retreat ceremony held at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug 4, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
Airman 1st Class Allen Holder, receives a coin from Col. Elizabeth Harrell. Holder volunteered his time and brought over an auger drill to help make way for the new flagpole. Holder is with the 451st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and Harrell 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron commander and deployed from Scott AFB, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
Airmen from the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron put the finishing touches on folding the U.S. flag during a retreat ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 4, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
Staff Sgt. Michael Newman presents the flag to Staff Sgt. Kristy Wolfmayer, marking the end of retreat at Kandhar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 4, 2012. Wolfmayer's father, John Woflmayer from Califon, N.J., designed, built and shipped the flagpole to Kandahar Airfield. Newman and Wolfmayer are with the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
Airmen with the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron bow their heads in prayer during a retreat ceremony held Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug 4, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
by Master Sgt. Russell Martin
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
8/10/2012 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)
Airmen from the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron conducted a retreat ceremony at the contingency aeromedical staging facility here Aug. 3, lowering the colors from the flagpole and folding Old Glory in full ceremonial tradition.
But it isn't just any flag, and it isn't just any flagpole.
After months of research, design and preparation, a flagpole that was designed and built in and shipped from New Jersey was erected at the CASF here Aug. 1. Three days later, the first flag flew over the facility from sunrise to sunset. And upon the completion of retreat, this flag -- folded in a triangular shape, with the union facing out, in line with military tradition -- was then set aside to be sent to the United States, to the man who made it possible.
A true symbol
In May, Staff Sgt. Kristy Wolfmayer, a 651st EAES pharmacy technician arrived to the CASF to begin her six-month tour of duty. She immediatley noticed the colors flying above the CASF, in a less than honorable fashion.
"When I saw the flag, I was just amazed at how the flagpole was consistently falling over, leaning away from the vertical," said Wolfmayer, who deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "The pole was bent and was secured between two cement barriers with 550-cord. It was a creative way to temporarily display the nation's colors, but we needed something more, especially for those who come through here."
Wolfmayer said many emergency aeromedical evacuations that come in and out of the CASF bring Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who were wounded or injured on the battlefield. Patients from forward operating bases, combat outposts or even more remote locations are brought to Kandahar Airfield by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft to receive medical aid. After all, the Airfield is home to the Role 3 medical facility, the second-largest hospital in Afghanistan.
"For many, the flag is the first thing they see as they depart the helicopter and proceed to the ambulance," Wolfmayer said. "I felt as though the patients needed to see the flag and a strong sturdy flagpole, a true symbol for them to look up to and remind them that their country is behind them 100 percent and we support them."
Within a week of her arrival to Kandahar Airfield, she began to think of how she and her wingmen could improve the existing structure. Fortunately, Wolfmayer had the perfect resource to aid her, and she made the phone call back home.
She called her father, John Wolfmayer, a glazier out of Califon, N.J. A glazier is a person who installs commercial glass into large-scale buildings. John got to work and did some research. Before long, he came up with a design and started fabricating a new flagpole.
"After he came up with a design, he had a two-week delay before fabrication could begin due to his job requirements," said Wolfmayer. "But then he built it on a weekend and posted a picture of it on my Facebook page. I couldn't believe it. It was taller than his two-story house."
John then disassembled the flagpole into 6-foot pieces, packaged them up and mailed them out. Wolfmayer and her team obtained a permit to dig an appropriately sized hole in which to secure the base. Once the permit was received, they enlisted the help of Airman 1st Class Allen Holder, of the 451st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, who volunteered his time and brought over an auger drill to help make way for the new flagpole.
Pride and respect
On Aug. 1 Wolfmayer and her team assembled the pole and readied it to fly its first flag.
"It's really inspiring for me to see my Airmen have so much pride in their mission, their unit, their Air Force and their country," said Col. Elizabeth Harrell, 651st EAES commander. "To know that Kristy did all of this work to get the flagpole made and shipped here, Airman Holder dedicated his time to providing a secure foundation, and the rest of the unit pitched in to help assemble and raise the flagpole ... it's just amazing."
For Wolfmayer, the completion of the project cements her commitment to her mission.
"This event was significant because it was a project that I had worked on since my arrival," Wolfmayer said. "It connected people from the States to (Kandahar Airfield). Dedicating it and having a ceremony made it more symbolic than just installing the pole. Having a formal retreat ceremony with numerous members from the squadron as well as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing command chief (Chief Master Sgt. David Brinkley) made it a special time to not only appreciate the pole," but also to appreciate her father and his donation as well as pay respect to the flag, she said.
"It reaffirms the reasons we are here," Wolfmayer said.
8/15/2012 5:09:01 PM ET @Why. I recently wore the OCP uniform as a JET Airman and wondered this myself. The position of honor is the wearer's right and the backwards flag isn't really backwards. It's symbolic of a soldier carrying a flag while charging into battle. That's the way the flag would fly if it were an actual flag. Hope this helps.
8/15/2012 4:18:21 PM ET @Why not sure what regulation you are looking at but USAFCENTAFI 36-2903 states the following in regards to wearing the flag on OCPs. 18.104.22.168. Right shoulder Infra-Red US Flag may be worn. In fact for all uniform combinations that patches can be worn it states the Infra-Red US Flag may be worn on the right shoulder.
8/15/2012 10:35:32 AM ET Why are an increasing amount of servicemembers wearing the US Flag patch affixed to their right shoulder The regulations clearly state it should be worn on the left shoulder with the union to the viewers left.
Why, Doesn't Matter
8/13/2012 3:27:49 PM ET Thanks to MM for pointing out what many of us already know about how this comments system works obviously Holy is new here. I was not disparaging the content or subject matter. I was merely wondering how a SNCO would write so poorly and that the editing chain would allow it to pass. Got it now
8/13/2012 2:03:54 PM ET In DMPI's defense the comment system here often strips punctuation from submitted comments. I comment on a variety of different sites and this is by far my least favorite comment system.
8/13/2012 1:10:15 PM ET Must not have used punctuation in your 20 year capacity. Either way great article. Really appreciate the series. Keep 'em coming
8/12/2012 11:09:16 PM ET Within a week of her arrival to Kandahar Airfield she began to think of how HER AND HER WINGMEN could improve the existing structure. Or obtained a permit to dig an appropriate sized hole. Really This was written by a Master Sergeant This made it through an editorial chain that must've included at least one commissioned officer Try SHE and her wingmen... and ...appropriateLY sized... In 20 years of editing SP desk blotters and intel reports this never would've made it past me and my red pen. Fix it