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Airman's legacy lives on

A tree is lit Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., during a tree-lighting ceremony in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th Space Communications Squadron Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Family and friends decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

A tree is lit Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., during a tree-lighting ceremony in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th Space Communications Squadron Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Family and friends decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Senior Airman Wendell Hudnall Jr., 460th Space Communications Squadron, left; Airman 1st Class Brandon Maun, 460th SCS, center; and Senior Airman Ryan Clancey, 460th SCS, string lights across a Christmas tree, Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The tree was lit in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th SCS Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Friends and family decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Senior Airman Wendell Hudnall Jr., 460th Space Communications Squadron, left; Airman 1st Class Brandon Maun, 460th SCS, center; and Senior Airman Ryan Clancey, 460th SCS, string lights across a Christmas tree, Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The tree was lit in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th SCS Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Friends and family decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Senior Airman Ryan Clancey, 460th Space Communications Squadron, strings lights across a Christmas tree, Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Clancey decorated the tree in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th SCS Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Friends and family decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Senior Airman Ryan Clancey, 460th Space Communications Squadron, strings lights across a Christmas tree, Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Clancey decorated the tree in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th SCS Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Friends and family decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Craig Mansfield, father of the late Senior Airman Kristopher Mansfield, addresses a crowd during a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 9, 2013, at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The tree was lit in memory of Kristopher, a former 460th Space Communications Squadron member who was killed by a drunk driver. Family and friends decorate the tree annually in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Craig Mansfield, father of the late Senior Airman Kristopher Mansfield, addresses a crowd during a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 9, 2013, at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The tree was lit in memory of Kristopher, a former 460th Space Communications Squadron member who was killed by a drunk driver. Family and friends decorate the tree annually in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

A tree is lit Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., during a tree-lighting ceremony in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th Space Communications Squadron Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Family and friends decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

A tree is lit Dec. 9, 2013, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., during a tree-lighting ceremony in memory of Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th Space Communications Squadron Airman who was killed by a drunk driver. Family and friends decorate the tree in celebration of Mansfield’s life and what he meant to the squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Kristopher Mansfield’s favorite ornmanet hangs from a tree decorated in his honor. Mansfield was a former 460th Space Communications Squadron member who was killed by a drunk driver. The tree is decorated every year in his memory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

Kristopher Mansfield’s favorite ornmanet hangs from a tree decorated in his honor. Mansfield was a former 460th Space Communications Squadron member who was killed by a drunk driver. The tree is decorated every year in his memory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A crowd sits quietly on a bitterly cold December night with family and friends gathered to remember the memory of a young, passionate man who had his life robbed from him.
 
"I just want to thank all of you for coming out," Craig Mansfield, Kris's father said quietly while holding back tears at the annual tree- lighting ceremony.

Senior Airman Kristopher Mansfield, a former 460th Space Communications Squadron Airman, was only 23 years old when a drunk driver struck his motorcycle on Sept. 4, 2004. He died in the hospital two days later.

"Every year, the 460th SCS honors the memory of Senior Airman Kristopher G. Mansfield by hosting a tree-lighting ceremony on Buckley," said Lt. Col. Wells, Commander of the 460th SCS.

The tree sits stoically outside the communications building and is decorated ever year for Christmas in celebration of his life and what he meant to the squadron.

"No matter what I do, he will never return," Mansfield said. "This gives me the power to try and prevent others from being dragged into a crime that is preventable."

Mr. Mansfield and Julie Legg, Kris's mother, are both very vocal advocates against drunk driving. Their continued efforts at Buckley and the surrounding community highlight the importance of not drinking and driving.

"Craig's and Julie's commitment and dedication to the Buckley Against Drunk Driving program as well as educating the community to reduce drinking and driving is phenomenal," said Wells.

Urging others to be aware of how much they're drinking and emphasizing the high importance of having a plan in place, Mansfield continuously emphasizes the importance of playing it safe, especially during the holidays.

You are too valuable to yourself, your family, your friends and your community," Mansfield stressed. "Stay where you are or call for a ride."

Any member of Team Buckley that ever needs a ride can call Buckley Against Drunk Driving at 720-847-RIDE (7433)
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