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Doing good deeds while deployed

Senior Airman Denise Gutierrez of the 45th Space Wing Chapel during her deployment to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (Courtesy photo)

Senior Airman Denise Gutierrez of the 45th Space Wing Chapel during her deployment to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (Courtesy photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When Senior Airman Denise Gutierrez found out that she would be deploying, she was excited. "When I first found out, I was very excited," said Airman Gutierrez. "I've been wanting to deploy for the four years since I've been in the Air Force."

Airman Gutierrez returned to Patrick last year from a four-month deployment to Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan.

Airman Gutierrez was there as a chaplain's assistant. She visited the troops, helped to organize the daily services, and kept statistics on how many troops attended service or sought counseling. However, besides her official duties, Airman Gutierrez became a coordinator for the Manas Air Base Outreach Society (MABOS).

MABOS works with different organizations, including orphanages and Habitat for Humanity, in the surrounding area to fulfill their goal of winning the hearts and minds of the Kyrgyz people. "It unofficially became my main duty," said Airman Gutierrez.

One program Airman Gutierrez worked on was the "babushka" program, where people from the base would provide companionship to elderly ladies living alone with no relatives to care for them. "We'd go out to have lunch with these old ladies and support them financially, because they don't have any family or support," said Airman Gutierrez.

Her supervisor, Lt. Col. Ronald Underwood, 45th SW chaplain, knew she would be a credit to the Wing while she was deployed. "Airman Gutierrez is an exemplary chaplain assistant whose heart, faith and love for her job leads her to give beyond the call of duty," he said. "Nobody does it better."

One project Airman Gutierrez felt proud of participating in involved the Tokmok II Orphanage. This facility was located an hour and a half away from the base and housed more than 100 children from 16-18 years old. Airman Gutierrez and her group would visit with the children and bring food, water and clothing.

In addition to bringing essentials, Airman Gutierrez also helped start a project to renovate the orphanage's shower area. Previously the children were taking only one shower every 14 days. Now there are more operational showers and the shower area is cleaner.

Looking back on her first deployment, Airman Gutierrez is proud of the work she's done. "It's been a really great experience," she said, "and I would go back anytime."