An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Gillespie Loop: Honoring Airman who made the ultimate sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
  • 455th AEW/PA

The men and women of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing came together for a road dedication ceremony to honor Master Sgt. Randy Gillespie, a fallen Airman who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Master Sgt. Randy Gillespie was a career fuels specialist who died July 9, 2007, from wounds sustained during small arms fire near Herat, Afghanistan.
He was teaching fuels procedures to Afghan forces at the time and demonstrated such care for them that they called him "Brother,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Smith, Gillespie’s supervisor at Luke Air Force Base.

The 24-year Air Force veteran had volunteered for one last deployment before retiring.

"He knew his career was winding down," Smith said. "He told me he wanted to do one more thing to make a difference."

This is the second road on base that has been named after Gillespie. The first was decommissioned after the mission at Bagram changed.

“In 2008, just 6 months after MSgt Gillespie's death, the fuels management flight at Bagram wanted to honor his memory due to several members having worked for or with him,” said Chief Master Sgt. Troy Ferguson, 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels manager. “It was decided that naming a street for him on Bagram would serve as a long term memorial.”

“The original Gillespie Way named for Master Sgt. Gillespie was located on the eastside complex near a portable fuel farm,” said Ferguson. “The Defense Logistics Agency decided to put in permanent tanks due to the expanding mission at Bagram. This resulting in the decommissioning of the portable fuel farm and unfortunately Gillespie Way was demolished in the process. We thought it would be fitting to rededicate Gillespie Loop near the new complex on the eastside. We also wanted the road rededicate ceremony to occur on the anniversary of MSgt Gillespie death.”

The ceremony gave Airmen who knew him time to reflect on the impact he has made on them and the career field.

“At the time of Master Sgt. Gillespie's passing, I had just cross-trained into POL (Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants),” said Master Sgt. Jason Bowman, 455th ELRS. “I remember witnessing the impact that this senior noncommissioned officer had on the POL Airmen that served with him. In the days that followed, the support and love for the men and women of the Luke AFB Fuels Management Flight – specifically for MSgt Gillespie's family – was overwhelming. It made me quickly realize that POL is not just a career field, but a family that I’m proud to be a part of.”

“MSgt Gillespie was a stand up Airman,” said Tech. Sgt. Amos Kleinwolterink, 455th ELRS. “It's an honor to be here today, and to be able to recognize him eight years later. I truly feel like I'm standing on his shoulders every time I think about the sacrifice he made. Randy had been in the Air Force 24 years when he left Afghanistan in 2007. He could have easily gotten a pass on the deployment, but he truly answered his nations call.”

“POL prides itself on being more than a career field, it’s a family,” said Ferguson. “We lost the first and only member of our family due to combat. It was important to show future fuels specialist that if you pay the ultimate sacrifice you will not be forgotten. Also it is a reminder that we are Airmen, warriors…and freedom is not free! The life we enjoy as Americans is sometimes paid in blood.”

Gillespie not only made an impact on his peers in his career field, but also on future generations of POL Airmen.

“Every morning during technical school, we raised the US flag adjacent to the Master Sgt. Gillespie memorial,” said Senior Airman Ethan Brown, 455th ELRS. “Now, four years later I’m in the middle of my first deployment and I realize it is up to me, and my POL brothers and sisters, to finish what Master Sgt. Gillespie started. Being a part of this ceremony here at Bagram, I hope to one day head back to the POL schoolhouse, share my experiences and salute his memorial.”

Gillespie was the first and only POL Airman to be killed by enemy fire during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraq Freedom.