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Airmen exemplify being a wingman in chaplain's time of need

Wingman (U.S. Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Stephen Cadette)

Wingman (U.S. Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Stephen Cadette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Many facets of an Airman's life differ from those their civilian counterparts. Airmen are required to wear specific uniforms, practice precise customs and courtesies, and when another Airman is in trouble, Airmen are called on to be Wingmen.

Such was the case April 23 when Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Grubbs, 30th Space Wing, suffered a heart attack at the headquarters building on base.

During his time of need many Airmen stepped up to assist the Chaplain and were able to keep him in stable condition until the ambulance arrived. On the scene were Capt. Marty Vermeulen, 30th SW Commander's Action Group, Command Chief Master Sgt. Cari Kent, and Dr. (Col.) Joseph Anderson, 30th Medical Group commander. Master Sgt. Jorge Hinojos escorted medical assistance upstairs.

"Chaplain Grubbs came into my office complaining of chest pains and then asked me to call 911," Captain Vermeulen said. "After calling 911 I went in to grab Colonel Anderson out of a meeting."

If a person is going to have a heart attack, consider it lucky to be near the 30th MDG commander.

"Colonel Anderson began to assess the situation and give the dispatcher up to date information on the condition of the chaplain," Captain Vermeulen said.

A comforting hand came into the picture during the commotion.

"I was waiting for the wing stand up in the Command Post Conference Room, when Colonel Lovett came in and told me the Chaplain was having a heart attack," Chief Kent said. "My initial reaction was to pray for God to help him."

Chief Kent picked up the Chaplain's belongings and continued to stay with him as he was transported to the hospital. He was eventually transferred to Santa Barbara, where the 30th Space Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator chief and family friend, Donna Rathbun sat until his family was able to arrive from San Diego, Captain Vermeulen said.

The incident, as dreadful as it may be, is an example of how well Air Force members work together to support each other.

"Our thoughts are with Chaplain Grubbs and his family as he recovers," said Col. Steve Tanous, 30th SW commander. "This is just another example of Vandenberg Airmen stepping up to do everything and anything to ensure the safety of another. That is what being a Wingman is about."

Chaplain Grubbs is in stable health and already back at work.

"The quick teamwork of Capt Vermeulen, the 911 operator, Dr. Anderson, the Fire Department, MSgt Hinojos, AMR ambulance service, and the staff at Lompoc and Cottage hospitals made the difference between death and quick recovery," Chaplain Grubbs said. " I would also like to thank Chief Kent, Donna Rathbun, Colonel Tanous, and his family, friends, and co-workers for keeping my morale high."