JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
A 902nd Security Forces Squadron entry controller’s thoughts turned to his family as Hurricane Harvey prepared to unleash its fury on the city of Houston more than two weeks ago.
But he never wavered from devotion to his duties, even as the massive storm’s floodwaters threatened his childhood home in the Houston suburb of Spring and filled the apartment where three of his brothers live.
Airman Malcolm Charles, who came to JBSA-Randolph for his initial assignment in June, is now serving his family – and the hundreds of thousands of Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey – by contributing to relief efforts during part of his duty day.
Charles and other 902nd SFS members are performing entry control at the South Gate, helping Federal Emergency Management Agency trucks smoothly enter and depart JBSA-Randolph, which has been stood up as an Incident Support Base for the staging of disaster relief supplies.
Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander, said this mission is personal to Charles, representing a contribution to his family.
“In the military we talk a lot about service before self,” she said. “Airman Charles feels that his best effort is here supporting this mission so that these individuals can get the relief supplies out there. Airman Charles is making us proud and he’s going to make sure this mission happens.”
Charles’ supervisor, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Hill, 902nd SFS military working dog handler, said the Airman “wants to do anything he can to help.”
“He has been resilient in his duties and performs just as well as before the natural disaster happened,” Hill said. “He understands that what we are doing on Randolph is helping the relief effort.”
Charles was attending to his duties as an entry controller during Hurricane Harvey’s onslaught, keeping in touch with his family members.
“I began to worry the moment I knew there was a hurricane headed toward Houston,” Charles said. “My attention was on that, but as a first responder, my duty was here.”
As Charles communicated with his family members, their conversations helped to reassure him.
“Keeping me updated put me more at ease,” he said.
His parents, Gary and Monica, his sister, Tiffany, and his niece Aven were holed up in their home as floodwaters crept up to their front door. Fortunately, water never entered the house, although it advanced, receded and advanced again as Harvey refused to budge.
Meanwhile, in another part of Houston, Charles’ brothers Gary, Damien and Darius dealt with floodwaters entering their apartment. They are now living with their parents in Spring until their apartment is habitable.
“There was a lot of water in the unit as far as the carpet and some appliances, but they were able to salvage most of their clothes,” Charles said “They all handled the situation to the best of their abilities.”
When relief efforts ramped up, Charles and other 902nd SFS members were assigned to their posts at the South Gate, facilitating the movement of FEMA vehicles. Charles earned a coin from Pringle for his efforts.
“Being coined by the general made me feel that me being a proficient and professional security forces member doesn’t go unnoticed,” he said. “It made me realize that no matter how small or big of a part that I play in the mission, every part of the mission is essential.”