Osprey crew chiefs bring relief to those in need during COVID, holidays

  • Published
  • By By Jim Fisher
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Two CV-22 Osprey crew chiefs with the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here were looking for a way to give back as Albuquerque suffers through hard times.

When Airman 1st Class Ryan Martin and Airman 1st Class Marcell Blow looked at how to make a contribution, they found out that the pandemic has not only increased need, but also that donations are in shorter supply this year. By contacting Albuquerque Public Schools donation program, they identified a need for coats and toys.

“They normally get a lot of clothing donations, but with COVID, all the donations stopped,” Martin explained. “So we went out and got coats from different locations--more than 200 coats—and donated them to APS.”

The coat drive, which spanned September and October, included donations from across the 58th Special Operations Wing, and the crew chiefs’ own 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

“They told us there were about 800 people in need, and we just did our part to contribute,” Martin said.

But then the pair took things a step further, starting a toy drive for APS (though toys will go to children in and outside of the APS system). They have collected more than 200 toys thus far, and the Airmen will keep the drive going until Dec. 10. APS has indicated there are 560 families in need of these donations.

Both new and used toys are welcome, but Martin cautioned that used toys should include all the parts and pieces.

“Just the smallest donation goes so far. When we donated the coats, the smiles on the faces at the donation center were huge. It doesn’t take a lot to make a big impact,” Martin said.

Both Airmen, teammates on the flightline and neighbors in a duplex in Village 7, were looking to make an impact since arriving in Albuquerque from technical training in 2019. Though they were junior enlisted, they took responsibility.

“We kind of have the same personality of trying to be the best,” Blow said. “One day we were brain storming on a way to help, and we say ‘Why not us? Why can’t we take the initiative?’”

Both were raised to help those less fortunate, Martin said.

“I come from a small town and when I came to Albuquerque and saw the homeless population, I just knew I had to do something,” Martin said. “I’m not at all struggling in life and when I see people in need during the holidays, I just have to do something.”

Being raised in a military culture of innovation, the ideas came quickly.

“It’s starting to get cold and maybe kids don’t have coats,” Blow said. “COVID has put a lot of strain on families, and we could help families falling on hard times.”

Lt. Col. Lisa Stokey, 58 AMXS commander, said the Airmen exemplify not only a spirit of giving and responsibility, but the way the Air Force wants its Airmen to make a difference, on and off duty.

“The Air Force needs Airmen ready to accelerate when they see a chance to make a difference,” Stokey said. “I’m incredibly proud of Ryan and Marcell. Despite the stress of the pandemic, they are still thinking of ways to help our local community. These two exemplify the innovation, diversity of thought, team building and courageous problem-solving that will push our force to accelerate change.”