AFOSI agent displays service before self

by Airman 1st Class Tryphena Mayhugh
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The “whole-person” concept is the idea within the Air Force in that Airmen not only perform their jobs, but strive to go above and beyond meeting minimum requirements, achieving personal and professional growth, and being an active member in their local communities.

Courtesy photoU.S. Air Force Special Agent Emmanuel Merhan, Air Force Office of Special Investigation, stands with his friend and interpreter Bashir while deployed to an undisclosed location.
Courtesy photo
U.S. Air Force Special Agent Emmanuel Merhan, Air Force Office of Special Investigation, stands with his friend and interpreter Bashir while deployed to an undisclosed location.

Special Agent Emmanuel Merhan, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 4th Field Investigation Squadron, is an Airman who endeavors to portray aspects of the “whole-person” concept as a part of life — doing so resulted in him being awarded one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans award.

“Emmanuel embodies the ‘whole-person’ concept,” said Special Agent Shane Moon, AFOSI, 4th FIS, who has worked with Merhan for the last year. “He knows service to others positively affects everyone and everything in his life; those actions, firmly rooted in his faith, will, and do, transform every aspect of his life, including his service to the Air Force and his country.”

On March 28 in Nashville, Tenn., Merhan was honored by the United States Junior Chamber with the award, which in the past has been presented to Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley and Wayne Newton.

“I believe he was chosen for the TOYA award because of his dedication and commitment to serving people in his life — friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers,” Moon said. “I believe he serves and loves people in his life because he truly cares. People can spot a phony from a mile away, and Emmanuel is not a phony, not even slightly.”

Despite the people around him telling him he deserves the award, Merhan had a hard time accepting it.
“I try to maintain a humble spirit, one of true humility, so it was extremely difficult for me to be acknowledged in this way,” Merhan said. “I decided to take this platform and boast about the number one thing in my life, and that’s my faith.”

While working with his church, City Mission Kaiserslautern, the Sugarland, Merhan caught the attention of one of his co-workers, who nominated him for the award under the Humanitarian and Volunteer Leadership category.

Through church, Merhan reaches out to refugees from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East who have come to Germany, including the less fortunate within the German community. He helps organize and manage what they call a “Hope Market,” where donations of clothes, appliances, small furniture, produce and bread are available for those in need to take as much or as little as necessary.

“It’s not just about meeting their physical needs, but also meeting their spiritual needs and letting them know they have brothers, sisters and friends here,” Merhan said. “It’s not about giving them free stuff and hoping that their lives get better, we want to do whatever else we can to help in all areas of their lives. It’s about that relationship.”

Along with his work for refugees, Merhan is also involved in programs that educate youths about the dangers of substance abuse as well as volunteers for the Wounded Warrior Program, assisting wounded military members as they transition back to the U.S.

Merhan’s desire to help those around him does not stop with the local community. Ever since he was little, he said he wanted to be a police officer.

“For me, the draw of OSI was having a hand in making the Air Force a better place,” Merhan said. “You have the ability to directly impact and shape what it looks like, by getting the guilty people out and exonerating the people who are innocent. You feel like there is a sense of protecting the Air Force.”

The Air Force encourages Airmen to become more than their respective jobs and to have a positive impact on those around them. Living through his faith, Merhan devotes himself to serving others and his country, using each day as a stepping stone towards becoming a well-rounded Airman.