Life changed, lives saved

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Oleksandra G. Manko
  • Nellis AFB Public Affairs
"I can vividly remember her first response to one of our more serious rocket attacks in the Baghdad International Zone on 25 March 2007," recounted Lt. Col. Byrl Engel, the 99th Security Support Squadron commander. "She was one of the first responders to the event and immediately attended to a U.S. contract worker who was seriously injured. I arrived at the scene just after the responding ambulance had loaded the patient and looked around to determine which of my patrolmen were present. Senior Airman Whitfield was standing slightly off to the side from the scene, caked in blood from the knees down, arms and hands bloodied and somewhat trembling. It was obvious she was in shock and awe at what she had just witnessed and been involved in. I was in shock and awe at how she was able to perform so heroically."

Airmen in this day and age consistently deploy to all the hot locations their fellow Army and Marine servicemembers go. They live in tents, participate in convoys, man the hospitals and contribute to the mission in countless other ways.

Ask not what the Air Force can do for you - ask what you can do for the Air Force. However, should one choose to follow this paraphrased John F. Kennedy motto, it doesn't mean he or she would walk away empty-handed. A personal journey from doing nothing to doing something, to doing something amazing is an award in and of itself, as an Airman here has learned.

Senior Airman Lindsey Whitfield, 99th SSS assistant personnel reliability program noncommissioned officer in charge and a Burbank, Calif., native, is the recipient of the inaugural Air Force-level Elizabeth N. Jacobson Award for Expeditionary Excellence. She is also the 99th Air Base Wing 2007 Airman of the Year, had earned one Air Force and two Army Achievement Medals throughout the course of her deployment and became the unit's first recipient of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Salute to Heroes Award in honor of her combat actions. She said she enjoys her job as a security forces member, even though it has its ups and downs.

Airman Whitfield's commander says she is truly a hero, the sky is her limit and he would not be surprised to see a Chief Master Sgt. Whitfield by 2020; her excellence in action has and will continue to inspire others to follow in her steps. One could say her future is mapped out and she is well on her way, but not many could say that about Lindsey Whitfield just a few years back, before she became an Airman in the U.S. Air Force.

"I wasn't really doing a whole lot," recollected Airman Whitfield, who now has almost five years of service under her belt. "I went to college for a year, played basketball, and that's all I wanted to do, but I wasn't really into the whole schooling thing. I always wanted to join the services, ever since high school, so I finally went to a recruiter and joined."

In 2007 she deployed for the first time, spending six months in Baghdad. There, equipped with the skills learned at a five-day Combat Life Saver Course, she saved lives treating critically wounded personnel earning medals for courage under fire and heroism in chaos.

"Doing that and seeing the after-effects of what I did is a whole other feeling than being a cop," said Airman Whitfield. "I never thought I was going to be a medic. I mean you take the courses just in case, but it was almost a monthly thing - every now and again I had to work on somebody and I knew what to do."

Her records state she had excelled in her primary duties as well - leading patrols, seizing illegal firearms, uncovering escort violations, establishing cordons, identifying explosive ordinances, evacuating and securing areas. Not stopping there, she engaged in community projects helping out impoverished locals, enrolled in online college courses and additional medical training, and independently studied for and passed a college-level examination program test.

Airman Whitfield said her role model is her brother, Harold Whitfield.

"He has a lot of goals and he always reaches all his goals," she said. Now Harold, as well as the rest of her family, is proud of what she is doing and what she has achieved. They were initially hesitant and concerned about her enlistment.

"I learned a lot," she spoke of her deployment. "I definitely learned not to take things for granted while you're here [stateside]. When you do your training before you get deployed, make sure you pay attention. You never know what you might have to face when you're out there."

And so we have Lindsey Whitfield - a young woman, athletic built, hazel-eyes, short blonde hair.

Who is she? - A single mother of a three-year old, a person who enjoys music, dancing and hanging out with friends.

What about her? - She is an Airman, a security forces member, a life saver, a hero, the U.S. Air Force's motto embodied.