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NH Airman Honored for Deployment Duties, Aiding Crash Victim

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson,
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. – Just days before deploying, an Airman flew into action after witnessing a three-car collision on his way home from work.

Staff Sgt. Reese Bassett, an air transportation member with the 157th Logistics Readiness Squadron, was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in March 2021. He saw the accident in Greenland, pulled over and ran to the scene.

“The door was smashed the engine was smoking,” Bassett said. “I ripped open the door. As soon as I made sure the passenger was ok, I called the police immediately.”

Another driver stopped to assist and stayed with the injured passenger while Bassett helped the other drivers.

“I was trying to calm everyone down and make sure everyone was alright,” he said. “I think the training I’ve had in the Air Force has taught me how to react quickly and calmly.”

A few months later, thousands of miles away, Bassett was focused on another mission at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. His team broke the air transportation career field, or 2T2, movement record. The Airmen loaded over 48 missions in 24 hours, extracting more than a million tons of cargo and vital military assets.

“The amount he was able to accomplish in Kabul was extraordinary because it’s a faster pace and a heavier workload with less people,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jeremy Mercier, the Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent. “What makes it even more incredible is he did all of this while volunteering to provide airfield security. He was there to be a 2T2, and on the side, he was guarding the base.”

Bassett worked seven days a week his entire deployment. From Bagram, he went to Qatar, then volunteered for Operation Allies Refuge, helping evacuate refugees and cargo out of Kabul.

“All of these experiences have made him a better leader and a better mentor,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Norton, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 157th Air Terminal Function and Bassett’s supervisor. “There are a lot of things we can do in our career field to go outside the scope of our daily jobs. He has used his experiences to train other members and helped them understand why it’s important to be ready to go out on the road.”

At the Air Transportation Advisory Group Symposium, Bassett was awarded the 2021 Chief Master Sgt. Tommy Downs Award for his mentorship and commitment to the 2T2 career field.

“Chief Tommy Downs was one of the first 2T2 chiefs to push concerns up to the Air National Guard,” said Mercier. “He loved the career field and was a true port dog, mentoring and working to get us to a place where we were heard.

“Not only is Bassett a natural leader, he inspires people to hold themselves in a very professional manner,” Mercier said. “He has had a huge impact on the career field throughout the year and has carried on the legacy of Chief Downs. He’s a well-rounded Airman, and one anyone would want to have in their squadron.”

Basset said he learned numerous lessons about working with new aircraft and new people. He said trying new things takes courage but having a team makes anything possible.

“You have to be adaptable and understand that the only real constant is change,” he said. “Everyone is embracing it together, and they’re there for each other. That’s what makes it work. Afghanistan was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I gained a lot from it that I can share with some of the younger Airmen here.

“It really goes to show that you don’t know what to expect when you deploy,” he added. “Or even at home when you’re driving down the road.”