24/7 Wingmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Being in the Air Force not only makes one a wingman to his or her fellow servicemembers, but also to the civilians they vowed to protect and defend.

This was the case on August 16, when Master Sgt.'s Charles and Alison Bridges and their two children were on their way home from a family vacation and stopped to take a photo.

They were in the Big Horn Mountains above Dayton, Wyo., when they saw a paraglider prepping for flight and decided to stay and watch.

The paraglider, Steve Hovis, eagerly awaited the right opportunity to take off. Shortly after he was airborne, the wind died down, causing Hovis to lose control of his glider.

"I thought he was gone," said Master Sgt. Alison Bridges, 28th Bomb Wing management internal control toolset program manager. "He fell really far. I thought I was watching someone die."

The entire crowd got in their vehicles and drove away, with the exception of one family, the Bridges.

"It's the right thing to do, that's what it comes down to," said Master Sgt. Charles Bridges, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft section flight chief. "I don't think I would have been able to look at myself in the mirror if I hadn't stayed and helped."

Charles Bridges walked 200 feet down a steep slope to reach Hovis, and discovered the paraglider had sustained an open compound fracture to his left arm. Charles was able to stabilize Hovis using a first-aid kit.

After removing Hovis' gear, Charles wrapped his arm with a quick clot bandage, splinted it and made a sling. The family then gave Hovis water, keeping him hydrated and preventing him from going into shock.

"I don't think we would have been able to help him to the extent that we did if I hadn't received training in Self-Aid and Buddy Care and Combat Airman Skills," Charles said.

The family combined a dog leash and a rope to pull Hovis and Charles up the steep incline.

"We want to set a good example for our children," Alison said. "You don't just walk by and ignore problems, you fix them."

Once Steve Hovis was safe and in the recreational vehicle with his wife, Chris, the Bridges left. Instead of continuing home, they went to Sheridan, Wyo., and informed the hospital that the Hovis' would be arriving shortly. They also relayed the aid they had administered to Hovis.

"Charles and his whole family got involved in helping us, while everyone else just drove away," Hovis said. "Had they not helped, my treatment would have been significantly delayed until responders came from Dayton or Ranchester."

Hovis added that he appreciates everything that Airmen do in service to their country.

"The Bridges family exemplifies what the Air Force teaches and my wife and I are very thankful that they were there in our time of need," siad Hovis.