Airman recognized for excellence in spiritual support

  • Published
  • By Maj. William "Spence" Spencer
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing deputy wing chaplain
Staff Sgt. Frank Rivas, 6th Air Mobility Wing chaplain's assistant, was honored by the Air Force Thunderbirds in a special recognition ceremony on the flight line at the Tampa Bay Air Fest held on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. March 23, 2014.

With thousands of spectators from the Tampa Bay community looking on, Rivas stood shoulder to shoulder with six Thunderbirds pilots and four Airmen from MacDill who were also being recognized.

"I felt a sense of honor to be able to bring to light some of the great things I was privileged to be a part of at my deployed location," said Rivas. "To have my family there to also be recognized and honored for their sacrifices during my time away was a very humbling experience."

Rivas recently returned from a six month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as an integral part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. There he served as the NCO in charge for the Expeditionary Base Defense Group Religious Support team.

As part of the ceremony, the Air Fest announcer read aloud a list of accomplishments from Rivas' deployment:

As a deployed chaplain assistant, Rivas provided 461 hours of unit engagement and supported 45 field worship services all while being subject to 62 indirect fire attacks. When the team at Bagram experienced combat deaths, it was Rivas who provided 10 separate debriefings, greatly bolstering the group's spiritual resilience and ability to maintain focus on the mission outside the wire. He also worked tirelessly in the Bagram medical operation center as a beacon of hope and a calming presence. Rivas and his chaplain conducted multiple memorial services and provided spiritual care for two casualties and 15 medical providers following two improvised explosive device incidents.

"My favorite part of being deployed was the full integration with the Airmen, and knowing that I could help them in any way so they could carry out their mission," said Rivas.

SSgt Rivas is a tremendous asset to the Air Force Chaplain Corps, because in everything he does he embodies their mission of "Glorying God, Serving Airmen, and Pursuing Excellence."