Three airmen deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, are keeping the memories of war alive and relevant.
Fallon native son Army Spc. Jason Disney was one of the first soldiers assigned to Bagram shortly after 9/11 when two jets slammed into the World Trade Center towers, another one flew into the Pentagon, and the fourth, after hijackers had been overtaken by the passengers, crashed in a field in western Pennsylvania.
Disney deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom as a wheeled vehicle repairman and welder with the 7th Transportation Battalion’s 58th Maintenance Company (GS)/530th Supply and Service Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C. Unfortunately, Disney never finished his deployment to Afghanistan because on Feb. 12, 2002, he died in a welding accident as battalion soldiers ensured improvements were being made at BAF before more soldiers arrived at the air field, about 25 miles northwest of Kabul, the capital city.
To honor Disney, the main road at BAF was named in his honor, and the command erected signs describing Disney.
Now, with the rapid pullout of coalition forces from Afghanistan, Bagram’s hustle and bustle as a military staging area has diminished. The major sign, though, fell into disrepair.
“I just want the family to know that out here at Bagram, he is still honored, and no one has forgotten the sacrifice he made. Disney Drive is still the main street in Bagram,” said Sr. Airman Eric Woolstom, a structural journeyman in the U.S. Air Force whose home station is Travis Air Force Base west of Sacramento, Calif.
Woolstom, who is from Belmont, N.Y., said two fellow airmen and he were driving to their compound when they noticed an old weathered sign someone propped outside their customer service building. His first sergeant had also noticed Disney’s sign propped up against a wall near BAF’s main Entry Control Point and hated seeing the sign leaning against a wall in poor shape.
That’s when Woolstom and his buddies swung into action.
“I volunteered to make a new frame for it,” he said. “I then got with Staff Sgt. Jacob Skjei, (Hallsville, Mo.,) ,who is an engineering assistant, help me with the layout and printing of all the lettering. Although the sign was completely remade, we kept what was said intact and kept the layout similar only shifting the paragraphs to make room for the flag and picture.”
Woolstom said he found a piece of purple heart, which is a dense hardwood with a natural purple color that is native to the tropical climate of Central and South America. Woolstom then made a flag box and small picture frame with Disney’s photo in it.
“Airmen 1st Class Taylor Davis (Baltimore, Md.) and I then made the case for the flag, which was actually flown in our compound on 9/11 of this year, and the small picture frame,” Woolstom explained. “Then we made the actual memorial frame to house everything.”
Once a location was determined, Woolstom said Davis and he built an overhang to protect the memorial from the elements. After completing the project, the three airmen held an unveiling ceremony, which was documented by public affairs.