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50 OSS helps Airman in time of need

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- At 11:10 p.m. Feb. 20, Senior Airman Corey Best was heading home from a swing shift. He noticed several missed calls and a voicemail message.

"This is an emergency, call me back as soon as possible," the message said. It was a friend who lives in his apartment complex. The 50th Operations Support Squadron GPS instructor became nervous; he called back and asked what happened.

"Your apartment was on fire," Best's friend said.

At approximately 5 p.m. that day, a fire broke out at his Colorado Springs, Colo., apartment complex. According to the fire marshal, eight to 10 residents were displaced, and Best was one of them. The investigation confirmed a resident left food on the stove, which burned out of control. Upon hearing the news, Best began freaking out.

"Oh man, this is not happening," he thought. He continued to drive and told himself to avoid speeding and relax; speeding was not going to help the situation if his stuff was already on fire. Instead, he prayed the whole way.

When he got to his apartment, he saw fire department trucks, firefighters and police. He tried to get information and get in position to see his apartment. However, a police officer told him they couldnt let him in and that he needed to find a place to stay for the night.

"That's when it really hit me. What do I do?" Best said. With no place to stay and no change of clothes, he needed to find an option.

Fortunately, Best's friend, Senior Airman Cody Boyer, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, offered his home for the night. The following morning, Best went to work and informed his supervisor and leadership about what happened.

"The squadron was on it," he said. "Everybody was really supportive."

Staff Sgt. Victor Guadalupe, Best supervisor, informed his leadership, including Master Sgt. Mark Catania, 50 OSS flight chief for current operations and additional-duty first sergeant.

"Keeping in constant communication with him in the morning that day was huge," Catania said.

The squadron gave Best time to sort out his situation as well as the reassure him that 50 OSS will support him.

"When he got here, we did our due diligence of taking care of him," Catania said. "We told him to make sure to let us know whatever he needed and we would help him out."

The Airman and Family Readiness Center arranged for Best to receive a loan through the Air Force Aid Society's Falcon Loan program to help offset the deductible he needed to pay for his renters' insurance.

"Fortunately he has insurance," Catania said. "His possessions are well covered."

Representatives from his insurance company brought his property, such as clothes and furniture, to a warehouse to go through and identify what can be recovered as well as take the smoke damage out. The insurance company also put Best at a hotel for the next three weeks so he can find a new living arrangement.

"Being prepared is No. 1 because you never know," Catania said. "Having insurance is really important to help ease if you ever get into such an event."

Being prepared helped Best. He saw how in the last two years, the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires affected thousands of people.

"When I saw how intense the forest fires were, I decided I am definitely getting renters' insurance. And lo and behold," said Best.

He said the $17 he spent every month is definitely worth it.

"I spend $17 on stupid stuff," Best said. "My insurance protects my stuff, so why not? It was definitely one of the best decisions I've made."

Catania said the squadron providing help is a great illustration of the Wingman concept.

"This is just us coming together and supporting our people in their time of need," he said. "It's just being good Airmen."

Lt. Col. Jack Fulmer, 50 OSS commander, commended the whole squadron who aided their fellow Airman.

"We are very proud of the entire squadron for helping Airman Best, making sure he is taken care of both from a financial standpoint as well as his whole wellbeing," Fulmer said. "This is a testament to the great leaders we have in the squadron."

For Best, he was thankful for all the support he received.

"They've always been there for me," he said. "I can't stress enough how amazing it is to work at OSS and just have them in my corner. It has been a relief. I learned to be optimistic because at the end of the day, there's nothing else you can do. You can sit around and cry about it, or do something about it. I am just looking at the best route to keep moving forward, and having a great squadron behind me makes it a lot easier."
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