Photo of the Day: An Air Force SSgt.’s Inspirational Community Service


Wheatland

The photo above was posted to the Beale Air Force Base Facebook page on April 11th with the following caption:

“It seems more often than not that I’m worried about the future of America. However this morning the future of America surprise me. At 9:30 this morning while driving through Wheatland, California I witnessed a young man in uniform near Beale Air Force Base, stop to assist an old man in a wheelchair. This young Airman represents the best of Air Force values and American citizenship. Whatever unit this he belongs to is fortunate to have him and the Commanding Officer of that unit has every reason to be proud of his troop. Thank you for representing the best of our nation, the Air Force, and our community.”

Pretty cool, right? But it actually gets better. Here’s a follow-up from the original poster, Sean Smothers, citing an email reportedly sent by a local bank manager to officials at Beale:

I am writing this email in regards to a SSgt. and you may relay my message onto whomever is in charge of this thoughtful, caring, and exemplary role model.

On 04/11/2016, [the] SSgt. came into our Wheatland location of Umpqua Bank pushing a gentleman in a wheel chair. The man was Victor Delgadio and [he] was in rough shape. Mr. Delgadio had one leg, no shoe on, seemed to be a bit distressed and unkept. [The] SSgt. stated that he had seen him having trouble wheeling down the road and stopped to see if he could help.

This “road” was Hwy 65 and at that time in the morning was busy with commuter traffic. Mr. Delgadio said he was going to the bank so [the] SSgt. assisted him by pushing him the rest of the way (roughly ½ mile). When they got to the bank, he assisted Mr. Delgadio into the restroom, left to get his car and returned to follow up. During that time we found out the Mr. Delgadio was trying to get to the bank because his care taker had taken his account numbers and information. He knew that was not right so he wanted to come in and change his account info.

Unfortunately, he banked with Chase Bank with the closest office in Marysville. With no way to get there, we decided to arrange for a taxi to pick him up then get him home. [The] SSgt., knowing that he was taken care of was able to leave. To all of our surprise, he returned about 15 min later with a pair of shoes he had went to purchase for Mr. Delgadio. He said he just couldn’t see him go without a shoe.

I am sure [the] SSgt. was on the start to a busy day. He was in uniform. He not only took time out of his morning to be observant, help someone in need, was genuine but also went ABOVE & BEYOND by his gracious gift. It was a touching moment for all of us in the bank. I just wanted to take a moment and recognize his humble act and ensure you knew that he upholds his military and personal values both AT and OUTSIDE of work. Thank you!

A subsequent post on the Beale page solicited the identity of the good samaritan, and a response from someone purporting to be the NCO’s wife identified him as SSgt. Lekema Bullock. Assuming the story and identification are accurate, hopefully the leadership team at Beale sought out this obviously kind and selfless individual to shake his hand and thank him for what he did. While it was undoubtedly a simple matter of him doing what he felt was right, his actions ended up affirming faith in humanity for a great many people and bringing great credit to the uniform he was wearing.

The current conventional wisdom in the Air Force’s management culture is that doing volunteer work and community service makes airmen better. This explains why the service encourages and rewards noticeable volunteerism. But this is exactly backwards. Recruit and develop good people, and they’ll serve in the community without need of career incentives or command coercion.

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