Stepping Up and Stepping In for Team Incirlik Airmen

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- When young Airmen are preparing for a family, or are trying to prepare where they live and how, financial planning is a must. A way to alleviate some of those expenses is though family support programs such as the Airman's Attic, but not all installations have one.

That was the case at Incirlik Air Base, until a group of Airmen decided to do something about it. They noticed there was a need for donated items such as furniture, children's clothing, uniforms and household goods-- so the team stepped up and stepped into action.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, challenges Airmen across USAFE-AFAFRICA, to Step Up, Step In to take charge of everyday challenges and opportunities on and off duty and that's just what one NCO and a team of volunteers did.

Tech. Sgt. Alex Puma, 39th Air Base Wing Legal Office NCO in charge of military justice, led the initiative to open the Airman's Attic. He started the process by first creating a private organization and then gathered volunteers to start helping other Airmen in their community. As a team they contributed more than 100 hours of coordination and preparation for the endeavor.

"We used the funds from our private organization, bought clothes hangers and other items for the Attic and after a few weeks opened our doors," said Puma. "Although the process may seem quick, it took more than five months from the planning stages to now having the Airman's Attic open."

Facing an initial road block of finding a location for the Airman's Attic didn't stop Puma and his team from moving forward with their goal. The team submitted required forms that were subsequently denied, but through their determination they secured a temporary location. The next step was to prepare the site and spread the word to procure more donations.

"I believe a lot of people do not do things because they assume there is going to be a lot of red tape involved, however, as long as you do things the right way you can accomplish anything," said Puma. "Sometimes you have to just step up when you see something that needs to get done and step in when you hit road blocks."

Puma's leadership describes him as being a great example for all Airmen and as a person continually thinking of ways to improve the Air Force. They said it was no surprise how much he put into making this project a success.

"He has the motivation and confidence to step up and step in even when it is not his responsibility," said Capt. Christopher DelGiorno, 39th ABW Legal Office chief of civil law. "His off-duty work establishing the Airman's Attic is just another example of TSgt Puma putting service before self."

The person who lead the charge on Incirlik's new Airman's Attic happened to be an NCO, but his team consisted of variety of people as being part of the community and getting involved has no rank constraints. In fact anyone can make a difference.

"You always have to step up when the situation calls for it," said Puma. "We are all Airmen and should all be proud of who we are, Step Up, Step In and make our community better."