Citizen Airmen aid one of their own

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
With the unexpected heavy rains and flooding in South Central Kansas this month, most people were left grasping for umbrellas, while some unlucky residents had to forge an escape route.

For the family of Master Sgt. Andrew McGhee, 931st Force Support Squadron training manager, the latter was true on the evening of September 9. Though the McGhee family home was located approximately two miles away from the Ninnescah River in Clearwater, the heavy rains caused the river to rapidly rise overnight. The threat was precarious enough that the local fire department responded and evacuated his spouse, Bonnie, his two daughters, son, two cats, dogs and several other families, via motorboat.

Their escape was compounded by the fact that McGhee, and most of the 931st FSS he serves with, were away performing temporary duty at Silver Flag at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Fortunately for the McGhee family, the Citizen Airmen of the 931st FSS promptly responded.

Despite the rescue occurring only hours before the September Unit Training Assembly, Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish, the 931st FSS First Sergeant, received a call from his command and quickly began rallying a slew of willing volunteers within the FSS after speaking with their commander, Maj. Amy White.

“Sergeant Parrish contacted us immediately and was really good at getting everybody updated,” said Bonnie McGhee. “He’s was, and has been really good about checking [on us] and keeping us updated.”
“As a first sergeant, our goal is to make sure our member is taken care of,” said Parrish.

White, who was also TDY working for 19 Air Force, knew that despite the desperate circumstances, the McGhee family was in good hands.
“Sergeant Parrish is a very caring SNCO and I am very thankful he was my first sergeant during all of this. Yes, it is a first sergeant's job to help our members, but he has truly gone above and beyond to find ways to take care of this family,” said White.

In addition to Parrish’s initiative, several other members of the unit also took swift action the night of rescue.

“Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Foster didn't miss a beat in finding last-minute lodging arrangements for the family and their dogs. She really worked to find a hotel that had availability and was able to get them into a nice pet-friendly hotel at a very, very good rate,” said White. “Tech. Sgt. Tamara Thomas and Senior Master Sgt. Debroada Cornelius equipped the McGhees with the knowledge of various assistance opportunities offered through the Air Force Aid Society, Red Cross and Salvation Army.”

As the event occurred so close the UTA, the message of the McGhee’s plight quickly circulated outside of the FSS, and a majority of 931st ARW first sergeants and acting first sergeants rallied support for the family in the form of donations and ideas for continued support.

Though the rescue may have been a surprise to the McGhee family, the quick action came as no surprise to 931 ARW leadership.

“I've seen this over and over again in my career - when unforeseen and tragic events happen, the Air Force family will rally to support those in need,” said White. “I am just blessed to have some extraordinary people on my staff that really stepped up to the cause despite the FSS being minimum manned this past UTA. “

To support the McGhee family, please contact Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish at (316) 519-3291.