355th EMS shows wingmanship under the hood

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As the shiny 1984 Chevy Caprice Classic rolled into the hangar, Tech Sgt. Adrian Mapps, 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, and his family watched in total surprise. The last time they had seen the car it was marooned in their driveway, non functional, with maintenance casualties strewn on the cement beside it. But now it was rolling smoothly toward them with the sounds of Motown, a favorite genre of Mapps', drifting out of the windows.

When he'd received a call to come by the office, Mapps thought he would be signing some final paperwork. But the summons was actually part of a big reveal that had taken an entire month to put together.

As a squadron, the 355th EMS had taken Mapps' beloved car and restored it. Almost every Airman in the hangar had donated something to the cause; be it time, money or expertise.

"We decided to restore the car after Mapps' accident," said Master Sgt. Matthew Kosto, 355th EMS A-10 Repair and Reclamation section chief.

In January, Mapps was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him in the intensive care unit for more than two weeks. He suffered numerous injuries such as broken ribs, lacerated liver and a torn aorta.

"Even as banged up as he was, he asked about the shop every time we would visit him," Kosto said. "On one of these visits he expressed concerns about getting into work because the bike had been his only form of transportation. He had a car, but it wasn't drivable."

A few members of his shop took a look at the car and decided to make it a project of sorts.

"The original plan was just to get it running," Kosto said. "We passed around his bike helmet for funds and ended up with about $700. We figured with $700 we could do more than just 'get it running', and the idea just snowballed from there."

Airmen would pile into the base Auto Hobby Shop and use their maintenance skills to bring Mapps' beloved Caprice back to life.

"We spent about 40 hours spread throughout four weeks working on the car," said Kosto. "We wanted him to have something that was drivable, but most of all safe and reliable."

After the big reveal, Mapps and his wife expressed their gratitude.

"Even having been overseas during a natural disaster we've never gotten support as big as this," said April Mapps, wife of Mapps. "As prior military I know what it's like to work in a shop. Not everyone would have pulled together for us like you all did."

Mapps took the time to shake each and every hand that had contributed in some way to his gift.

"I've never had anyone do anything like this for me before," Mapps said. "I know that they really do care for me and my family. I can't even begin to describe how awesome a feeling that is."

The repairs to Mapps car cost about $1,500. All of the funds were raised in-house by the 355th EMS squadron.

"He would be the first one in line to help one of us if we were in a tight situation," Kosto said. "We just wanted to show him that we appreciated him and would treat him in kind."