Countian is truly a hero serving war-torn Sarajevo Air Force sergeant vital during airlift

August 18, 1992|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,Staff Writer

Timothy Gibson joined the Air Force right after his graduation from Annapolis High School because he thought it would be a good way to start his life. Ironically, he found himself helping to save lives in war-torn Sarajevo.

In early July, the U.S. military began airlifting food and other humanitarian aid to almost a quarter of a million people in and around the besieged Bosnian capital as part of Operation Provide Promise.

Sgt. Gibson, 24, stationed at Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany, as an air cargo specialist, was responsible for getting the food and medicine off the ground and to Sarajevo, as quickly as possible.

"I assisted in the downloading of cargo or delivered in-flight meals to outgoing aircraft. I made sure the troops were fed or otherwise cared for. My job was to generally help the air crews out as much as possible," he said.

He spoke by telephone from South Carolina, where he is currently on leave with his wife, Dina Gibson, 27, who is also in the Air Force.

"Provide Promise is important because with the United States being so large, it is good for us to help out those who are less fortunate," said Sergeant Gibson.

Provide Promise is the Air Force's code word for its involvement in the United Nations-guided effort to offer humanitarian relief to the citizens of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In addition to six planes from European nations, the Air Force's two C-130s make several relief flights to the Sarajevo airport daily, returning to the base in Rhein-Main after each mission.

"Provide Promise hasn't really changed my job. It has only increased the workload. But I realize that my job at fleet service is important because as one big team, I know that everyone is doing their part, so I must do the best job possible to hold up my end," said Sergeant Gibson.

Sergeant Gibson graduated from Annapolis Senior High in 1986. After joining the Air Force, he was first stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, then Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina.

For the past nine months, he has been stationed in Germany.

"I don't expect to be in Annapolis again for at least another three years," he said. "But I enjoy the Air Force. It's a good way to see the world and a good way to acquire enough money to go to college."

Sergeant Gibson's mother, Jean, said she is proud of her son. "I am very happy he is doing this [helping out in Sarajevo]. He has really enjoyed the service through the years and everything has gone real well for him."

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