INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
During the duty day, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dustin Pace can be found creating a different kind of art, by cutting, bending and riveting holes into sheet metal as a structural maintenance member of the 39th Maintenance Squadron.
“My job is to make the aircraft I’m working on structurally sound and in better condition than it was given to me,” said Pace. “It’s an amazing job to have, the amount of physical work we put into each job feels like making art.”
By the end of his shift, the ear protection used to mask the metal clashing and machines humming comes off, then he removes his overly used gloves to reveal hands of a hard day of work. But after his work day ends, his surroundings are very different.
In his off time, his head is no longer filled with numbers for measurements and tool sizes, but instead with a rainbow of words and the hum of low voices or snaps of fingers, the rhythm of poetry.
Pace first fell in love with poetry as a child.
"I started writing poetry when I was fifth grade, my teacher wanted us to create a class poetry book," said Pace. "Soon after that I realize I had a niche for it."
Pace wants to make the world a better place and is using his poetry and military service to do so.
“Writing helps me as a service member to be open minded and understand that everyone is not the same, we all have our own things going on in the world,” said Pace. “I put my imagination on paper and with me putting out my personal stories I could potentially change someone’s way of thinking, or I could sincerely make a difference in this world.”
In hopes to achieve his goals, Pace shares his work with friends, as well as the Spoken Word events held monthly at the base club.
“Going to Spoken Word is comforting because you are in a room full of people who want to share a piece of their life, when it is your turn to have the floor everyone is engulfed by your words,” said Pace. “Spoken Word gives you that chance to be yourself and share experiences with people who can relate, but most of all we can speak without being judged because it is who you are that matters.”
Pace’s work does not only reflect his own life, but others as well.
“Some of the topics I write about is reality, and with that I can write about my own reality or others,” said Pace. “Sometimes I can make up a scenario that seems extremely real and could be someone else’s world.”
Whether helping someone relate to their job in the military or their hobbies, Pace feels it is important to have passion in everything we do since many of our activities relate to one another. “It’s a great feeling that my job allows me to create something that started as a blank sheet of metal and turn it into something that’s vital to keep the mission going,” said Pace. “[Then] when I go home I can share my imagination and thoughts through my writing and to those around me.”