Service before self key to warrior spirit

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Agneta Murnan
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Between daily duties as an air traffic controller and volunteering for additional duties as security forces perimeter sentry and hospital assistant, Airman 1st Class Nive Leasiolagi, said this about her deployment to Balad, Iraq, "I just did whatever I could to help." 

Airman Leasiolagi's willingness to serve is the spirit that makes her such a strong warrior, said her supervisor, Staff Sgt. Joshua Beagley. 

"Just a few months of being in the Air Force, she volunteered to deploy to Iraq, where she spent most of her off-duty time assisting at the Balad hospital," Sergeant Beagley explained. 

Airman Leasiolagi is an air traffic controller with the 71st Operations Support Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, which provides air traffic control to the busiest runway in the Air Education and Training Command. But a cool head amidst great activity is something Airman Leasiolagi brought to the fight in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom September through January. 

While weeks at Vance Air Force Base involve shift changes and rigorous upgrade training, Airman Leasiolagi's typical week overseas consisted of waking up at 4:30 a.m., arming up at 5 a.m., changing shift at 6 a.m., receiving intelligence briefs and dispatching to post at 7 a.m. Duty usually ended 7 p.m. at the Department of Defense's busiest runway, but the day was not over until 90 minutes of physical training. Airman Leasiolagi spent five days working this pattern, alternating with a day off, which she used to volunteer at the camp hospital. 

There, Airman Leasiolagi navigated intensive care, the intermediate care ward and medical evacuations from a helicopter pad to the hospital, all while helping to oversee 65 third-country nationals during construction of overhead structures with Kevlar and bullet proof glass. This was to ensure the ongoing mortars caused minimal damage to the hospital. 

"She really knows what it means to exercise "service before self," said Sergeant Beagley, and that's what made her Vance's March Warrior of the Month.