Defending our country, protecting our community

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca Imwalle
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Less than one percent of our nation's population chooses to serve in the armed forces, prepared to sacrifice their time and life to protect this nation and the freedoms Americans enjoy today. One Ellsworth Airman has made that choice and taken that service a step farther.

Staff Sgt. Justin Sweet, Detachment 8, 372nd Training Squadron aircraft fuel system instructor, volunteers at the local fire department, giving his free time to help actively protect members of his community.

Sweets efforts in going above and beyond the call of duty have earned him the title of Firefighter of the Year in his community.

"I found out I was nominated for the Rapid Valley Firefighter of the year during the fire stations annual spaghetti dinner," said Sweet. "It was a humbling surprise."

After having his resume go through several officials, Sweet won the title of Rapid Valley Fire Department Firefighter of the Year. He was then nominated for the Pennington County Firefighter of the Year, which he also won.

Tech. Sgt. Jason Anderson, Det. 8, 372nd TRS offensive avionics instructor, has supervised Sweet for a year and explained that the titles he has earned are well deserved.

"I was surprised when I found out everything he does in his off duty time," said Anderson. "He is always at the fire department helping out the community and he definitely deserves both of the awards."

Anderson explained that Sweet not only works hard at the Fire Department, but at the detachment as well, often doing more than what needs to be done.

"I love being able to help others," Sweet said, "Volunteering also brings some excitement to my life[and] I always get [an] adrenaline rush."

Sweet has been in the Air Force for seven years, and has been firefighting for five; both of which he considers very important parts of his life.

"It's like another family to me," Sweet said of fellow Rapid Valley firefighters. "They look out for each other and help when it's needed. Without asking, they know when something is wrong and they are willing to lend a [helping] hand."

Anderson said Sweet's selflessness has been crucial to his success in the Air Force, as well as the Fire Department.

"You hardly ever hear him talking about himself," Anderson said. "He is always talking about what the community, Detachment, or the Air Force needs."

Each day, Airmen go beyond the call of duty asking nothing in return. Sweet is one of those Airmen, not only fighting for our country, but also helping protect his neighbors and strengthening the ties between his community and the Air Force.