Medical Group Displays True Wingman Spirit in Wake of So- Cal Wildfires
By Tina Greer, SMC Public Affairs
/ Published November 29, 2007
Los Angeles Air Force Base --
Los Angeles AFB's youngest medical technician was only one of over one million people affected by the October/November 2007 California wildfires. The fire, in and around Camp Pendleton, was named the Horno Fire, and by the time it was contained, it had burned a total of 21,084 acres and temporarily closed Interstate 5 as well as the Amtrak Surfliner service between Oceanside and San Clemente.
On Monday, Oct. 23 Airman Mackenzie Quintal learned her home of only six months was just over the hill from the fast approaching Horno Fire, which had already consumed 6,000 acres. By Tuesday, the air was filled with smoke and ash, and Airman Quintal and her new husband, Jordan received the computerized reverse 911 call to be prepared to evacuate. They packed their important belongings in her car outside and waited at home with Roxie, their Maltese Terrier, and Speedy the pet turtle, for further instructions. However, while waiting to evacuate, looters had stolen items from their car including cash, clothing, uniforms, food and sentimental items.
Luckily for Airman Quintal and Jordan the winds changed course, leaving their home untouched.
When Airman Quintal returned to work on Friday, "the 61st Medical Group came together and collected a monetary donation along with a commissary voucher to help her replace her uniforms and other items she needed," said Colonel Brian Deckert, commander of the 61 MDG.
"It melted my heart that everybody came forward to show me what kind of extended family I have here," said Quintal. "I have a whole new understanding of what it means to have a whole 'Wingman' group. I love to come to work everyday." Thanks to the 61 MDG family, Quintal celebrated Thanksgiving with her husband at home.
There were eight main wildfires that began burning across Southern California on Oct. 20 and were contained by Nov. 19. Contributing factors to the extreme fire conditions were drought in the Southern California, hot weather and unusually strong Santa Ana winds with gusts reaching 85 mph.