Fellow airmen, as well as soldiers, sailors, Marines and civilians, gathered to dedicate the Gillespie House here yesterday to honor a fallen airman.
Air Force Master Sgt. Randy Gillespie, a fuels specialist assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., was deployed as the embedded training team senior mentor with the Afghan National Army's 207th Corps at Camp Zafar in Herat. He died July 9, 2007, of wounds suffered from enemy small-arms fire.
The 44-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo., native joined the Air Force in 1983 and filled more than eight different mission-critical assignments during his career, including Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, where he was recognized as the Fuels Flight's noncommissioned officer of the year for 1999. During his last assignment at Luke Air Force Base, Gillespie and his crew were named the Air Force's best fuels management flight for 2005.
"As you can see, Master Sergeant Gillespie lived the Air Force core value of service before self," Army Maj. Gen. Robert Cone, commander of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, said at the dedication ceremony. "His fellow airmen have described him in a word as 'awesome,' a professional in every sense of the word. He took incredible pride in mentoring Afghan National Army personnel."
During the ceremony, Air Force Capt. Jennifer Mack sang the national anthem and the Air Force Song. "It was an honor to take part in his remembrance," she said.
A plaque displaying Gillespie's biography, accomplishments and names of his family members will adorn the new Gillespie House, which serves as living quarters for servicemembers stationed here.
Over the years, Gillespie earned a collection of medals and awards, and he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.
Cone read a letter from Gillespie's widow, Lisa Gillespie, who wrote, "He truly was a special man, ... and I so very much appreciate the remembrances and the tributes you are putting in place for him."
"Randy was a very nice, approachable guy. He definitely had an impact beyond his rank," said Air Force Col. Frank Heinsohn, who trained alongside Gillespie at Fort Riley, Kan., while preparing for his recent deployment.
"He will be remembered for his service to his country and his contributions to a democratic Afghanistan," Cone said.
Author Navy Seaman Timothy Newborn serves with the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.
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