ENID, Okla. —
The second of the three Air Force core values, “Service before self,” refers to this fact: “An airman’s professional duties always take precedence over personal desires.”
But an airman’s service goes beyond his or her professional duties.
“When we talk about developing professional airmen, our community involvement is a big part of it,” said Col. Darren James, commander of 71st Flying Training Wing.
Three of the young airmen under James’ command embody the wide-ranging scope of the concept, “service before self.”
2nd Lt. Matthew Smokovitz, Senior Airman Alisha Jones and Senior Airman Michael Peralez all donate time to various causes, both on and off base.
Jones: Happy to do it
During her duty hours, Jones serves as an air traffic controller in the 71st Operations Support Squadron. In her spare time, she is a busy young lady.
She recently served as volunteer coordinator for Cherokee Strip Area 6 Special Olympics, recruiting volunteers and assigning them to their duties.
“That was a handful, that was a lot,” she said. “That was probably one of the bigger projects I’ve taken on. It was a good learning experience.”
She is in charge of two schools — Monroe and Prairie View elementary schools — for her squadron’s adopt-a-school program. On base, she serves on the executive council for the Vance chapter of Air Force Sergeants Association and is president of the 71st OSS booster club.
“I feel like there’s really no one area that I volunteer in,” she said. “Whatever I can get my hands on and can help out with, I’m happy to do.”
In addition, she is a member of Vance Silver Talon Honor Guard, the primary duty of which is rendering honors at military funerals.
“It’s a lot of time, but it’s worth it,” she said. “You see the families, and they respect so much what you did, just coming out there and showing respect for their fallen loved one.”
She recently took part in one of the most memorable volunteer endeavors of her life, a mission trip to Africa. Jones joined a team of 30 people who traveled to Zimbawe for 24 days, where they worked to build a school for 300 students that also will serve as the local church. The group also worked to help fix up a local orphanage.
“I want to cry every time I think about it,” she said. “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. That was by far the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life, hands down. I can’t wait to go back.
“That was life changing for me. It put a whole new look at volunteer work for me.”
The group also held vacation Bible school for local children. They began with 100 children, but their flock grew to nearly 300.