We're very proud of the Airmen who took part in CO's high-point portion of the USAF 50 Summits Challenge. Can you believe it: over 70 members of the Air Force on top of their state summit? Outstanding! It's sure to be an experience that these Airmen recall with pride for years to come and likely a step in realizing their inner-strength and self-worth.
We wanted to highlight a story that exemplifies the professionalism of men and women serving in the Air Force. After reaching the summit of Mt. Elbert with the 50 Summits Challenge team, two of our Airmen noticed a young man on the summit who appeared ill. Capt Colin Merrin, who climbed Mt. Everest with the USAF 7 Summits Challenge in 2013, is well versed with acute mountain sickness (AMS)-- he made the life-saving decision to turn around just 2,000ft shy of Everest's summit after he began to experience debilitating affects of extreme altitude combined with a chest infection he was battling.
Colin and a SERE instructor from Fairchild AFB, WA approached the young man to check up on him. The boy and his friends had climbed faster than the adult in their group and were waiting on the summit for the rest of their party. Capt Merrin and the SERE instructor identified the symptoms the young man was suffering from as AMS and recommended the boys descend from the summit right away. The young men thanked them for their input and headed down the well-traveled trail.
Later, as Capt Merrin and the SERE instructor were descending with other Airmen, they came across the same young man. He was alone and separated from his group, yet still showing signs of confusion/lethargy (AMS). This time the Airmen took him under their wing and personally helped him down from the mountain until he was able to reconnect with his group.
It could have been a bad day on the mountain if a young person with AMS became lost, so we are very proud of the actions of these Airmen, but not surprised- that's exactly the sort of response we'd expect from the men and women of the US Air Force. Well done!