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Giving back

Denver -- In 1987, Chief Master Sgt. Fatima Jones was a senior airman, a 24-year old newlywed and mother of a 6- month old boy. She and her husband were stationed at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, and had just purchased a new house when she received tragic news - her younger brother who lived in the Phillipines had passed away. 

"I told my mom, 'I wouldn't be able to come home (to the Phillipines),'" Chief Jones said. "You could hear the disappointment in her voice when I told her." 

A plane ticket to the Phillipines would've cost $1,200 just for her, she said. 

"Financially, I knew I couldn't. I was a new mom and my son is a special-needs child, so I knew the only way (I could go) was if we all went." 

When her first sergeant heard the news that same day, Chief Jones said she was told to report to the squadron commander. 

"He made some calls to Air Force Aid Society, and the next afternoon I had orders for my family and me to the Phillipines," she said. 

The Air Force gave Chief Jones and her family priority transportation to Clark Air Base, Phillipines, by way of space-available flights to Travis AFB, Japan and Guam. "It had just so happened that we had recently finished the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign," she said. "The Air Force got us there and Air Force Aid Society gave us an allowance to stay in the Phillipines for 30 days." 

But the chief said it was more than money that AFAS gave her and her family. "At every stop we had someone there waiting for us making sure we had transportation and a place to stay," she said. "Even after we got back, I received a call from AFAS asking how everything was." 

For the last 20 years, Chief Jones has been making a donation to the Air Force Aid Society during the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign. In recent years she's also been giving to the Curtis E. LeMay foundation, another charity supported by the AFAF campaign. 

"Every year I've made it a point to give back (to AFAS)," she said. "I owe them a lot for what they did for me." 

Along with donating every year, the chief said she encourages other Airmen to think about giving during the campaign. 

"You never know when you might need their help," she said. "We need to keep these organizations in mind and remember to give back." 

This year's AFAF campaign at ARPC ends April 9. To donate or for more information, contact Senior Master Sgt. Sharon Tucker, DPS, at Ext. 6-6286 or Post 3B18.