News: Be a wingman with AADD
Story by Airman 1st Class Zachary Perras
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — For more than 10 years, Airmen Against Drunk Driving has been the last line of defense for anyone who has had a plan fall through at Eielson. This year alone, AADD has provided over 80 airmen with a ride home, and has possibly saved just as many lives.
According to Master Sgt. Gary Lutz, 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels operations section chief, AADD is the support function that encourages Airmen to have a plan. The organization is focused on contributing to the mission by seeing that, in a small way, people are able to come back to work every Monday morning.
"We are an awareness-based organization, and we are airmen who promote wise decision making," said Lutz, outgoing president of AADD. "This is a vibrant, alive program that ... stands on its own so we can focus 100 percent on taking care of our Airmen."
Lutz said that while AADD should not be an airman's primary plan, the idea is to get people to think about their actions long before a bad decision can be made.
Staff Sgt. James Cochran, 354th Maintenance Squadron crew chief of conventional maintenance, has volunteered for AADD at every base he has been stationed at. Here at Eielson, he continues to make the effort by working as AADD's scheduler.
For Cochran, AADD is more than just a ride home for those who may not have a designated driver. It has become a natural part of his lifestyle, one that he hopes the Iceman Team can adopt as well.
"It keeps our people safe," said Cochran. "I'm sure that with all of the people we have on Eielson, it's going to happen sometimes when [someone is] going to have a plan fall through ... and that's where we come in to make sure [everyone has] a safe ride home."
On Fridays and Saturdays, AADD operates from 10 p.m. through 4 a.m. the following day. Responsibilities include manning for charge of quarters, where volunteers dispatch phone calls, and drivers throughout the Fairbanks, North Pole and Salcha regions.
The purpose of AADD is to be a wingman, Cochran said. Without a wingman, bad judgment and decisions are made, which may not only end a career, but also a life.
"We don't want you to make that bad choice - it's a horrible decision and I don't want to see anybody making it," said Cochran. "There have been incidents where people have called AADD, and then they didn't wait. Ultimately, it's the individual's choice, but we're trying to help out."
Cochran has hopes that the number of days since a DUI can increase while the number of saves decreases due to the simple ideal of the wingman concept. AADD is a simple solution to drinking and driving - a solution which can have only a positive impact for the Iceman Team.
"We have to make sure we follow the wingman concept; it's that simple," he said. "People need to understand that everybody has a wingman and nobody is alone."
For more information or to volunteer, contact Cochran at 377-5811. To reach AADD dispatch, call 377-RIDE (7433).