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Airman Puts Service Over Self

Maj. Macomber, 217th Air Operations Group, poses for her Guardsman of the Month Photo

Maj. Macomber, 217th Air Operations Group, poses for her Guardsman of the Month Photo

Maj. Macomber, 217th Air Operations Group, poses for her Guardsman of the Month Photo

Maj. Macomber, 217th Air Operations Group, poses for her Guardsman of the Month Photo

February 7, 2017 --
There are people you meet in life who make a lasting impression that stays with you for a lifetime. In 2005, Major Suzanne Macomber, a member of the 217th Air Operations Group at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Mich., had such an encounter.
During an ice skating field trip with her son, Suzanne noticed a five-year-old girl struggling to skate by herself. She decided to introduce herself and spent the rest of the day helping the girl. Unknowingly, a memory was created that would stay with them both. As the day ended she noticed the little girl’s father watching from off to the side.
“He looked uneasy, so I introduced myself to him also,” said Macomber. “He said that the girl had lost her mother when she was less than a year old and it had been the two of them since.”
Suzanne didn’t see them after that, but she always wondered what became of the little girl and her father.
Fast forward to 2016, the first football game of the season. Suzanne’s son plays in the school marching band with about 140 other teens. She volunteers with six other mothers to keep the uniforms sewn, cleaned, and ready for each performance. It’s another way to help others, said Macomber.
One face along the sidelines stood out from the rest. Macomber realized that it was the man she had met all those years ago at the ice rink. He was there with his daughter, who also played in the school marching band. Macomber re-introduced herself and the memories came back.
A few weeks later, Suzanne finally met the man’s daughter, now all grown up, when she was doing hair for girls in the band. “I asked her if she remembered that day at the ice skating rink,” said Macomber. “She said, ‘Yes, I’ll never forget it.’ I told her I always wondered what had happened to her and we spent a lot of time catching up on her life.” They spoke more over the next few weeks and the girl told her about having a full scholarship to Western Michigan University in music, which, is her passion.
However, on November 4, 2016, tragedy struck her and her father once again. On their way to the Secretary of State’s office with the girl’s boyfriend and his mother, a driver crossed the center line and struck them head-on. Everyone in the car suffered extensive injuries and the girl spent more than two weeks in the hospital, though she is expected to make a full recovery.
Upon leaving the hospital she spent a few days with Suzanne and her family over Thanksgiving weekend. “I was there in any way to help, I took her to appointments and to visit her father in the rehab facility and just did my best to keep their spirits up,” said Macomber. She became an integral part of the support network surrounding this family in need.
The girl’s father was finally released from the hospital but still has a long recovery ahead. The girl is now trying to take care of him, and go to school full time. While it’s difficult, she is making due. She was able to go to her annual band concert this year. Though she couldn’t play, she was able to sit in a chair with her bandmates during the concert and feel the love from her friends and the community around her.
For Macomber, the unlikely reconnection with a face from the past is proof that the path of one’s life could change in an instant. The people you meet could be more significant to that journey than you could ever imagine.
“I always say that one of the Air Force core values, service before self, is why we do the things we do,” said Macomber. “Whether it’s for the Guard, or in the civilian sector, I would like to think that each and every one of us that wear this uniform would do the same thing to help others.”