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Community leaders give back, thank those who serve

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman William Brugge
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Colonels Adam Willis, 315th Airlift Wing Commander and Clint ZumBrunnen, 437th Airlift Wing Commander, Joint Base Charleston were both presented with artwork on behalf of  honorary commanders from the local Charleston community July 17, 2020.

The artwork presented to the commanders was created by Senior Airman Mike Liu, aeromedical evacuation technician, 433rd Airlift Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, while he was helping support medical efforts in Charleston, S.C for COVID-19 relief.

Angie Gibbs, Diane Wagner, and Kristin Smith, all employees from The Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport Hotel, and honorary commanders with the 315th Airlift Wing, presented the artwork with the help of Eli Wishart (Col. Ret.), director of the South Carolina Employment Support of the Guard and Reserve.

“We wanted to present the artwork to the commanders as a ‘thank you’ for everything that service members do for the community and the nation,” said Gibbs. “Had we not had service members staying at our hotel, people would have lost their jobs”

While Gibbs and the other honorary commanders showed their appreciation for the military community with the artwork, she also acts as the area co-chair for the South Carolina ESGR in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Beaufort. The ESGR helps keep service members in Reserve and Guard units around Charleston and across the state educated on the rights they have as civilians when they return back to work with their civilian employers after training exercises and deployments.

“We find it really important to be involved in the community and give back to those who serve us,” said Gibbs. “When we get up at 6 a.m. on the weekends to brief the unit, we don’t do it because it’s our job, we do it because we care and want to.”

Liu, who is also a freelance artist when not performing his medical duties, arrived in Charleston in the Spring of 2020 as part of a medical support team and stayed at the Crowne Plaza where Gibbs, Wagner and Smith work.

One day, while Liu was drawing in the lobby, Gibbs noticed the artwork he was creating and became interested in the prints of different aircraft, including the C-17 Globemaster III.

After speaking with Liu, Gibbs acquired two prints with the intention to give back to Joint Base Charleston by presenting the artwork to the 315th and 437th Airlift Wings.

“I felt very humbled when I found out that my artwork was being presented to the commanders,” said Liu. “I made sure that everyone was included on the airplane tails that I drew; active duty, reserve, and guard.”

While service members from all branches serve the community, the community often gives back to service members and show their appreciation for the sacrifices that are made.