Airman warns of the dangers of drinking, driving

Airman Rebecca Maurer
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

It was Dec. 7, four days after his 11-year anniversary of joining the Air Force, and three days before his birthday. Staff Sgt. Rasael Gonzales, a logistics manager in the propulsion shop, was at Manhattans enjoying an evening out with his friends.
Their fun was interrupted by a group of tough-guys harassing his designated driver, a pretty girl who wasn’t interested in talking to them.
When the club closed for the night, the friends left, only to discover the tough-guys waiting outside for them.
His designated driver was by then too agitated to drive, so Sergeant Gonzales took the keys to the car and started the trip home.
Minutes later, though, he was stopped by the local police for Driving Under the Influence.
Sergeant Gonzales scored a .12 on a breathalyzer test, then signed paperwork before returning the wheel to his DD for the rest of the drive home.
“It only takes one mistake, and that’s it,” he said. “I lost a stripe, did 30 days of extra duty and went through the (Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Treatment) program. I have to find a ride to work in the mornings and I can’t drive a government-owned vehicle anymore.”
The situation came almost like deja-vu to Senior Airman Gonzales, who had seen a close friend go through the same thing.
“I had a friend get a DUI; I watched him go through everything. He had to work with a funny schedule to get rides to places, lost a stripe, then had to leave the Air Force when he couldn’t reenlist,” said Airman Gonzales.
“He used to be a great Non-Commissioned Officer and gave great advice.
“He tried to be an example-now the same thing is happening to me.
“It only takes one mistake, and that’s it,” he continued.
“… I can’t reenlist; that’s 12 years in the military down the drain,” said Gonzales.
“The whole thing could’ve been avoided had I thought about it,” he said.
“No matter what, if you drink and get behind the wheel, you’re going to pay for it.”