NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. --
The U.S. Air Force has three core values: Integrity First; Service Before Self; Excellence in All We Do. The Air Force describes the first of these three core values as: An Airman is a person of integrity, courage and conviction. They must be willing to control their impulses and exercise courage, honesty and accountability in order to do what is right even when no one is looking.
It all happened on a cool December 2018 afternoon, on the 28th to be exact. Reserve Citizen Airman Staff Sgt. Kevin Foley, a KC-135 Boom Operator for the 328th Air Refueling Squadron was on his way home from work at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York. Taking a route he said he doesn’t normally.
He drove past a house and noticed a U.S. Flag was angled down into the ground from a support on a tree in the owner’s front yard. Foley had turned his car around to take a closer look and see if he could remount the flag.
“Upon getting up to the flag, I noticed the plastic support was badly cracked with no way of remounting it back onto the tree,” said Foley. Not wanting to just leave the flag out on the lawn, he decided the next best thing was to roll it up and place it next to the homeowner’s front door. Not knowing how long the flag had been down, 10 minutes or 10 days, he felt the need to do something about it.
“I learned at an early age through the Boy Scouts the care, courtesy and respect we must all give the flag. There was no one around and I had no idea there was a security camera at the house,” said the boomer. He then went on his way home with no further thought about the event.
A few days later he had been sent a link on Facebook. “The owner of the house had written a nice post and attached a still frame of me rolling up the flag. I was truly surprised to see the post and I couldn’t help feeling anything less than proud,” said Foley.
Word quickly spread around the Sanborn, N.Y. area and within the 914th Air Refueling Wing about this good deed. Col. Mark Larson, 914th commander, recognized Staff Sgt. Foley in front of his peers by presenting him with a commander’s coin shortly after.
“Whenever I want to feel good about where we are headed as a nation, I take the opportunity to get out and be among our Airmen. These men and women humbly do what our country asks without fanfare or self-promotion,” said Larson. “You can tell a lot about what someone values just by observing what they do in their spare time. To me true character is best demonstrated by how a person conducts themselves when no one is around or when their actions result in no personal gain or notoriety,” he added.
A native of Ransomville, N.Y. Foley enlisted in the Air Force Reserve in 2012 and became a C-130 Crew Chief, then a C-130 Flight Engineer, and now retrained as a KC-135 Boom Operator all the while stationed at Niagara. Single and a traditional reservist on active duty orders he is currently enrolled in school online at the American Military University working towards his bachelor’s degree.
“Like I said, Foley added, I was truly taken back by how big this became, with the biggest surprise being recognized by the Wing Commander, Col Larson.”
Col. Larson summed it all up by saying, “This was a small peak as to the kind of Airmen who sign on to defend this nation and it is a privilege to serve with them. Well done Staff Sgt. Foley.”