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Face of Defense: Airman Draws Motivation From Father, Uncle

By Air Force Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
Special to American Forces Press Service

SOUTHWEST ASIA, March 5, 2010 – After Sept. 11, 2001, Air Force Staff Sgt. Sparkle Reid was a different person. She was in one of the 2,973 families who grieved after losing a family member in the tragedy.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Staff Sgt. Sparkle Reid is deployed to an air base in Southwest Asia from the 48th Force Support Squadron at Lakenheath, England. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Reid lost her uncle, Louie A. Williams, when the World Trade Center towers came down. He worked on the 66th floor in the North Tower for the New York Port Authority as a paralegal. She had what she called "one of those deep cries."

On Feb. 27, 2009, Reid lost her father, Charles T. Reid, after complications from surgery. Again, she cried.

Now deployed as the nonappropriated funds custodian for the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron at an air base in Southwest Asia, Reid said she looked up to both men.

"I looked up to them full of love and inspiration," the Queens, N.Y, native said. "My uncle really wanted me to finish school, so that inspired my enlistment.

"With my dad, he was so proud of me," added Reid, who is deployed from the 48th Force Support Squadron at Lakenheath, England. "He'd say, 'My baby girl is in the military.’ We'd just started to rebuild our relationship when he passed. It hurt, a lot, to lose them both, but their deaths inspired me to be a better person. It inspired me to love and to forgive, because you never know when you won't have someone in your life anymore."

Reid has been in the Air Force for nearly seven years. Though she joined the military with the intention of furthering her education, she said, her service has given her even more.

"I have more stability in the military than I did as a civilian," she explained. "Originally, I wanted to go into the Army to be like my uncles and my dad. But my uncle told me, 'If you go, go to the Air Force.' There is a certain amount of pride that comes with being an airman. As far as being deployed, in my opinion, this is our real job. What we do at home station just prepares us to come here and complete our mission."

In her current job Reid prepares a quarterly budget and ensures inventories are completed and reported. She also completes financial statements, reconciles them and forwards them to theater command every month. She also purchases equipment for nonappropriated funds facilities.

"I have to make sure nonappropriated funds from self-generated activities are used to increase the quality of life and morale of our deployed airmen," Reid said.

Squadron leaders took notice, and nominated her for the honor she earned as the wing’s "Warrior of the Week" for the week of Feb. 17 to 23.

"She's a hard-working airman and deserves the recognition for her can-do attitude every day," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Mark Miller, 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron first sergeant.

Reid appreciates the recognition, but she emphasized that her work is "all about the team" and that she'll continue to work hard and also try to complete some goals on her deployment.

The airman said the memory of her departed father and uncle inspires her to do the best job she can every day.

"I like the small-town feeling this deployed base has and it will help me work to complete at least half of my Community College of the Air Force degree and to study for [promotion to] technical sergeant," Reid said. "I know my dad and my uncle would be proud of me for what I'm doing on this deployment. It's their inspiration that keeps me going."

(Air Force Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol serves in the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs office.)

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