Clean Sweep: 177th Fighter Wing Airmen donate time to roadside project

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- Airmen from the 177th Fighter Wing worked an off-day Monday, volunteering their time to clean up the community on April 13.

They participated in the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) roadside cleanup event picking up debris along a section of Tilton Road outside the base's main gate in Egg Harbor Township.

"We've been doing this since 2010 when we adopted this section," said Master Sgt. Alexander Trombetta, former 177th Fighter Wing member, now with the 113th Wing in Washington D.C. and president of the Atlantic City Chapter 258 of the Sergeants Association, referring to the section of Tilton Rd. outside the 177th main entrance extending to the Airport Circle.

The Atlantic City AFSA chapter has been working with Atlantic County Utilities Authority holding these roadside cleanup events quarterly.

"I believe it is very important to volunteer because it sets the example for others to follow and it shows the community we serve that the Air National Guard takes an active role in giving back," said Staff Sgt. Nicole Apel, Secretary of Chapter 258.  "Being Guard, we have a unique opening to serve the citizens of New Jersey; it's an opportunity we should all take advantage of."

Along with the roadside cleanup, AFSA members are looking forward to planning more events in the community. "As far as community service projects, we want to do more things like, maybe during the winter months, helping out in Atlantic City at a soup kitchen once a month," said Master Sgt. Grant Holway, Vice President of Chapter 258.

Last year an Extra Life event was held which consists of a 24 hour marathon of gaming.

"We would have a couple hours of playing your favorite computer game and then we took an hour to play some board games," said Trombetta. "We raised $750 and all that money was given to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia through Children's Miracle Network Hospitals."

"We're looking forward to planning and scheduling camping trips and things like canoeing for families," said Holway. "We used to do a lot of fun stuff, like camping and having activities for kids. We're trying to revive that."

Every year Chapter 258 has a table set up at the Atlantic City Air Show where they sell t-shirts to raise money needed to maintain the chapter and provide for the events they host.

"What joining and supporting AFSA does is it gives us more votes which give us more of a voice in legislature," said Holway. "One of the unique things about AFSA is the politics of it. When our retirement or other benefits are up for being cut, they are able to fight to keep them for us."

AFSA was established in 1961 by four noncommissioned officers who saw the need for enlisted members to have a voice to represent them, and their needs, to elected officials and military leaders.

"We are the largest enlisted Air Force organization, with 100,000 dues-paying members," said Rob Frank, CEO of AFSA. "AFSA's mission is to advocate for improved quality of life and economic fairness to support the well-being of the U.S. Air Force enlisted Airmen, veterans and their families."

"We do this by lobbying Congress for fair and equitable compensation and benefits, and by providing our members exclusive benefits, and an Association that allows them to contribute and support fellow Airmen, and the communities in which they live," said Frank.

For more information on AFSA you can visit www.hqafsa.org. You can also visit www.votervoice.net/AFSA/Home to see what the active issues are right now and make your voice heard.