Airmen taking care of Airmen: meaning behind the Mansfield Tree

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Luis Curro
  • 460th Space Communications Squadron

The 460th Space Communications Squadron held its annual tree-lighting ceremony in honor of Senior Airman Kristopher Mansfield in front of the Health and Wellness Center Dec. 5.

Members of the 460th SCS mark Airman Mansfield's passing each year with the tree-lighting ceremony.

On Sept. 4, 2004, Airman Mansfield, who had recently returned from a deployment to Iraq, was struck by a drunk driver while driving home from work. He passed away two days later. 

Airman Mansfield was assigned to the 460th SCS as a satellite communications technician. He had a reputation for concern and consideration for his fellow Airmen, competitive sportsmanship, community involvement and adherence to all safety standards.

In addition to wing dignitaries, the event is traditionally attended by members of Airman Mansfield's family to not only honor him, but also to remind everyone about the dire consequences of drinking and driving.

Mr. Craig Mansfield, Kristopher's father, was unable to make the trip from Canada to attend this year's ceremony, but wanted to pass on a message to members of Team Buckley: "I will be there in spirit and I will take a moment during the day to remember Kristopher and what the Air Force, and especially the 460th Space Wing, meant to him. We send our greetings to all and urge everyone to have a safe holiday season."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that thousands of people are killed and half a million are injured each year as a result of drunk driving. This makes drunk driving the most frequently committed violent crime in the United States.

Members of the 460th SCS have taken this warning to heart. The squadron has not had an alcohol-related traffic incident in more than two years and many members volunteer their time as drivers and dispatchers for Airmen Against Drunk Driving to help prevent drinking and driving fatalities.

The Mansfield Memorial Tree shining bright in front of the HAWC should be a reminder to everyone of the dangers of drinking and driving. 

Military members celebrating this season who decide they've had too much to drink to drive home can call 720-847-RIDE (7433).