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104th FW dental technician reflects on 40 years of military service

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Terrylee Lois Crowther, a dental technician assigned to the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, poses for a photo in front of the 104th Medical Group crest at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., Feb. 2, 2020. Crowther is the NCOIC of dental at the 104th FW and is nearing her retirement after 40 years of military service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Camille Lienau)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Terrylee Lois Crowther, a dental technician assigned to the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, poses for a photo in front of the 104th Medical Group crest at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., Feb. 2, 2020. Crowther is the NCOIC of dental at the 104th FW and is nearing her retirement after 40 years of military service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Camille Lienau)

WESTFIELD, Mass. -- The 104th Fighter Wing is full of hardworking Airmen who get the job done. The 104th Medical Group has a history of success preparing Barnestormers to be mission ready and fit to fight.

Master Sgt. Terrylee Lois Crowther is a dental assistant and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the dental section. As a member of the Guard, Crowther is in charge of members dental examinations, X-rays and paperwork.

“Everyone has to have an annual dental exam to make sure they are deployable,” said Crowther. “In the Guard, we can’t do these examinations annually, so we conduct them every five years and ask the members to turn in their paperwork. We also have to train to be proficient in our job tasks, so that if we get deployed, we can do our job.”

Working alongside dentists, Air Force dental assistants help provide patient care in every procedure. These specialists ensure that patients remain healthy and comfortable at all times. Working as a dental assistant provides applicable skills for civilian medical programs.

In a 40-year military career, Crowther’s most memorable experiences have been on deployments. She’s worked in emergency dental clinics in Honduras, Paraguay and Kenya.

“You are sent on these humanitarian trips to provide care for people who have no way of getting dental care,” said Crowther. “Every day, we would travel two to three hours in the Humvees, and we would drive by people walking to this clinic we set up. We had to set up outside because they had no electricity there. Hundreds of people would be lined up – women, children and men. Everyone was so grateful. They would not have been able to get their teeth pulled any other way.”

Crowther has spent four decades at Barnes and retires May 7, 2020.

“I’m going to miss the people and I’m going to miss being a part of Barnes and the Air National Guard,” said Crowther. “It’s going to be hard not putting the uniform on every day.”

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