News: Airmen honor fallen comrade
Story by Capt. Michael Meridith
By Capt. Michael Meridith
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – One Airman's commitment to a fallen comrade came full circle, Jan. 1, with the dedication of a road in his honor.
The newly-named "Master Sgt. Randy Gillespie Way" owes its existence to the efforts of Tech. Sgt. Blaine Arsenault of the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. Arsenault once worked for Gillespie, a career fuels specialist who died July 9, 2007, from wounds sustained during small arms fire near Herat, Afghanistan.
"Sgt. Gillespie was my first supervisor," said Arsenault. "When I heard he died, I took it personally."
Shortly after the news reached him, Arsenault found himself deployed to Afghanistan. Following a conversation with another Gillespie co-worker, Senior Master Sgt. Dean Abbott, he had an idea.
"After Sgt. Abbott and I talked, I was walking down Disney Drive (named after the late Army Spc. Jason Disney) and I thought about the road being named for a fallen Soldier," said Arsenault. "I knew they were building a new road by the fuel farm and thought there was no better way to honor Sgt. Gillespie's memory than to name it after him."
After weeks of research and coordination, Arsenault's efforts resulted in the naming of the road, including the Jan. 1 unveiling of a sign proclaiming "Gillespie Way" during a ceremony in the fallen Airman's honor.
"Master Sgt. Gillespie's memory will live on," Col. Barry Mines, 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group Commander, told the group gathered for the ceremony. "As our trucks drive around this fuel farm the drivers will remember one of their very own fuels specialists who gave his life in the service of his country."
Abbott, who knew Gillespie for 14 years, said he would have appreciated the efforts on his behalf.
"He would've loved it. He was a people person," said Abbott. "We as a people, a profession and an Air Force have lost a great human being. He was the whole package. He was all about helping and he volunteered to come back to Afghanistan because he wanted to make a positive difference."
Admiring the new road after the ceremony, Arsenault summed up the legacy of his fallen comrade, "He was a mentor, a wingman, a leader and a warrior. He will not be forgotten."