HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

I really shouldn't be here

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) -- A couple of feet and a half a second. These may seem like insignificant measurements; but when combined with fatigue, a couple of feet almost cost me my career, and that half a second almost ended my life.

There was a time when I was an enlisted aircraft electrical and environmental systems specialist and was part of the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. In the summer of 2008, while I was assigned to work in the support section, my supervisor and I were tasked to move much of the equipment from the 19th AMU hangar to the 12th AMU hangar because of renovation.

We had a tight deadline and the NCO I was working for was determined to complete the task during our shift that night, even if it meant working more than 12 hours. That night wore on and turned into morning and I knew it would not be long before the recently set sun would peak up again over the Chugach Mountains.

Things were going well for the first few hours. I remember gawking at Elmendorf's very first F-22 Raptor that had arrived only days prior as I hauled load after load of pallets and equipment across the hangar floor. I felt privileged to be able to get up close to this jet named after a Jurassic Park antagonist that all manner of military and civilian men and women of rank and position had been flocking to the base to see in the preceding days.

Then, unexpectedly, I got a closer look than I ever hoped for.

I wasn't sure how I deviated so far off my well-established path down the centerline of the hangar. However, I was sure I saw the half-ton of palletized equipment I was backing into the hangar pass less than a yard from the nose tip of the $150 million pride of the base.

I didn't say a word to anyone about it at the time. All I could do was imagine what my fate would have been if I had destroyed the pointy end of that beautiful fighter jet. The thought made me sick to my stomach. My line number for staff sergeant -- gone. My future in the Air Force -- shot.

Can you imagine being "that Airman" who smashed up Elmendorf's first F-22?

If I had still managed to promote and apply for officer training school, I can picture the conversation at the officer accessioning board going something like this: “and next up is a sergeant David Liapis ... wait, I know that name from somewhere. Oh, yeah, he's the guy that cost the Air Force millions of dollars because he was an idiot -- next applicant.”

As you might have guessed, fatigue was the main contributing factor in the previously related incident; however, I was not the only one suffering from too much work and too little rest that night.

My supervisor was stacking some pallets with a forklift as I guided him forward. I'm not sure how I ended up between a moving pallet and a wall, but I did. I gave the hand signal for the sergeant to stop, but he didn't. I managed to squeeze out of that tight spot just in time to avoid having the pallet pin me against the wall at my midsection. He was too tired and didn't react quickly enough to my signal -- again it was fatigue.

The Air Force Safety Program is nothing new. All the right rules and guidelines existed that night as they had for years prior and have for years since. We just got so wrapped up in what we were doing that we failed to consider and put into practice what we had been taught and what common sense told us.

We knew better, but the mission needed to be accomplished -- or did it? Did it really all have to be done that night?

It's true, getting the job done is what we are all about; however, we need to make appropriate risk assessments and ensure we'll be here to take on the next mission. Our line of work has inherent risks, but most can be easily mitigated.

The goal, rather the quest, is for zero --zero fatalities, zero mishaps, zero dollars spent to repair or replace needlessly damaged resources. That night, failure to appropriately address fatigue almost cost me a whole lot ... times two.

Engage

Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: Every inch, quart, and pound matters to the @grandslamwing EMXS Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory flight! The enti…
Twitter
.@USAF_ACC & @PACAF Airmen are practicing dynamic force employment ops during Exercise Pacific Iron. This training… https://t.co/tVThyHIDh2
Twitter
An F-16 Fighting Falcon received an in-flight software update during an Advanced Battle Management System demo at… https://t.co/PNPrxVTntf
Twitter
.@AFResearchLab is building an advanced high-power microwave weapon system to defend against increasing threats of… https://t.co/EoVbWbTIR4
Twitter
RT @Travis60AMW: Smoke on the water... or flight line... or whatever Deep Purple said 🎸 Yes, it does look this cool every time. 😎 https:/…
Twitter
The Department of the Air Force’s Chief Architect Office integrated commercial technologies to achieve decision sup… https://t.co/ddoCJB8fRF
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: Using Agile Combat Employment concepts, the @147thAttackWing transported MQ-9 aircraft/equipment over 450 miles from Hous…
Twitter
Juniper Falcon has ended. This in-person opportunity for U.S. military personnel and Israel Defense Forces to test… https://t.co/Enx1S0rI9X
Twitter
C-130 Hercules crews @374AirliftWing, Japan, helped @USArmy soldiers and @JASDF_PAO members drop from the sky durin… https://t.co/bHIdKk7yJv
Twitter
RT @GeorgiaGuard: #ICYMI: Members of the @165thAW had the opportunity to be a part of taking cadets from the Georgia Wing, Civil Air Patro…
Twitter
#ICYMI - Following guidance issued by the @CDCgov, the @DeptofDefense has directed employees working in areas of hi… https://t.co/3RUlbWvMNS
Twitter
Defenders at @EielsonAirForce Base, AK, are in a new weapons qualification course for defenders, rookies and vetera… https://t.co/jcahFIcT8J
Twitter
Excellence in all we do! https://t.co/Cp9gZucoz3
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Accelerate, Change, or Lose: @GenCQBrownJr's call to action for the service and how Airmen can play a key role in #innovation
Twitter
Dover AFB Airmen transported 2 CH-47F Chinook helicopters to Royal Australian Air Force Base, Townsville, Australia… https://t.co/yc1fOZc3Lr
Twitter
A Cyber Operations Specialty Training and Requirements Team conference was held recently at @81trwKeeslerAFB, Miss.… https://t.co/kXMAUz5xGd
Twitter
.@HQ_AFMC released an additional $5M in support of "The AFMC We Need" initiative, empowering #Airmen to be a drivin… https://t.co/yFRwx625C5
Twitter
RT @NORADCommand: #BTF deployments are an integral part of our globally integrated defense operations that provide left-of-launch #Deterren
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF Kendall’s message to #Airmen & #Guardians on our collective responsibility to overcome COVID-19 ⬇️ For resources…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Good enough today will fail tomorrow. #acceleratechangeorlose https://t.co/5dAU3Q9Ouy
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,355,515
Follow Us