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First Four own it
The benches outside of the Blatchford-Preston Complex mall were renovated by members of the First Four organization. With the support of 46 volunteers, 16 benches were refurbished over a three day period. The mission of the First Four is to improve morale, provide welfare, and inspire growth for all individuals assigned here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. David Miller)
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First Four own it

Posted 12/12/2013   Updated 12/16/2013 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. David Miller
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/12/2013 - Southwest Asia -- Airmen and Soldiers from the First Four joined together to leave a mark on the base they call home for the duration of their deployment and beyond.

The First Four recently renovated 16 benches over a three day period with the support of 46 volunteers of various ranks.

The benches, outside the Blatchford-Preston Complex mall, are used daily by people who want to take a break and relax.

The First Four is a private organization highlighting the members of the first four enlisted ranks at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia. Members are U.S. and coalition partners in the enlisted ranks of E-1 through E-4.

Deployed Airmen who were part of the Rising Six wanted to emulate the professional organizations from home station because no group existed here.

The members saw an opportunity to bring together members of these ranks in an environment to learn, grow and volunteer. With positive leadership and mentorship the First Four became a reality on Oct. 15, 2013.

Senior Airman Emesh Fernando, 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron passenger services representative and First Four vice president said, "Don't wait for opportunities to arise but be proactive."

The idea to renovate the benches in the Blatchford-Preston Complex came from Senior Airman Adam Disque, First Four co-founder, who recently redeployed to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

"He wanted to renovate the benches and rejuvenate them from the damage that occurred over time," said Senior Airman Vikki Flores, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management journeyman and First Four president deployed from Dover AFB, Del., and an Azusa, Calif., native.

The members of the First Four are not only renovating benches but also do a monthly base cleanup on the last Saturday of the month and have also worked to enhance educational benefits through a scholarship program.

Fernando has some words for service members currently serving here. "Leave the base better than you found it."

As Flores gets ready to redeploy she reflected on her time here.

"Have fun getting involved, meet people on base, and take the opportunity to own it."

The First Four is currently looking at another date to continue renovating benches in the BPC and volunteers of all ranks are welcome.

"The bench project will continue until all benches are renovated, supplies permitting," said Flores.

Chief Master Sgt. Rory Wicks, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief who is serving on a two-year tour and a Kinston, N.C., native said, "I am so proud of this project as these young Airmen and Soldiers have embraced the culture of "Owning versus Renting" here and have made a great effort to leave our base better than they found it."

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