BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (8/10/2011) - Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?
It's a question many Americans have the answer to engrained in their mind. Frank Bauder was on a boat in the Philippines when his girlfriend informed him what she had seen on the television. Soon after, he'd make a decision that would change his life.
Bauder, a native of St. Helena, Calif., joined the Air Force in 1973 during Vietnam and served 17 years between active duty and the Air National Guard before leaving military life in 1990. He was 15 years into a career as a pilot with Federal Express when he'd heard what happened on Sept. 11. Immediately, he knew he had to do something to contribute.
"They brought the fight to us," said Master Sgt. Frank Bauder, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron first sergeant. "I felt doing nothing in the war on terrorism wasn't an option. If I put my uniform back on and the military would take me, then perhaps my children wouldn't have to fight."
Determined to stand up for what he believed in, Bauder spent the next two months going through the necessary steps to rejoin the armed forces, and by Nov. 29, 2001, he was back in uniform. He joined the Army National Guard for one year, before finding his current home with the Alaska Air National Guard.
Ten years later, Bauder, stationed at the 176th Wing on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, found himself deployed to Bagram Air Field for a second time. He was an aircraft maintainer on the first deployment and a first sergeant in his second. Both jobs, while demanding, come with plenty of rewards as well.
"During the first deployment I was part of getting people and stuff to the pointy end of the spear as a maintainer," Bauder said. "On this one, I feel like I'm making a difference in morale as well as helping to mentor the younger airmen."
As a first sergeant, Bauder knows that every day at the office is different and comes with its own unique set of challenges.
"Our job doesn't stop," Bauder said. "It's a difficult job, but a necessary job. It's all a part of taking care of people."
One highlight of his first sergeant duties with the 774th EAS is seeing the role the airmen in the squadron are playing in accomplishing their varied missions.
"I'm seeing the impact of the job they do," he said. "They're getting the beans and the bullets to the boys in the field."
The example Bauder sets is felt by not only the younger airmen, but by squadron leadership, who rely on his experience and knowledge to ensure the airmen of all ranks are able to complete their missions.
"Master Sergeant Bauder's patriotism and commitment is a true example to his fellow airmen," said Lt. Col. Richard Adams, 774th EAS commander. "His story shows the diversity of the Air National Guard. This diversity of backgrounds, selfless personal sacrifice and commitment to our nation is what makes the Guard strong, and Frank certainly possesses all of these qualities. The shirt truly leads from the front."
Bauder, a husband and a father of four children, and a captain with 25 years at Fed Ex, has never wondered if he made the right decision in coming back to serve.
"There was no question in my mind it was the right move to go back," Bauder said. "I wanted to be part of the solution. I'm turning 56 soon and I'll stay in for as long as I can. I'm in the company of some real fine airmen here, and it's an honor to serve them in this capacity."
By U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
Provided through DVIDS
Comment on this article