We’re taught early on in life to learn from mistakes. Well instead, one Airman makes it his mission to help members of Team Ramstein to learn from his mistake; never drink and drive.
Airman 1st Class Justin Grimm, 86th Communications Squadron base knowledge operations manager, has spread word of his experience with driving under the influence, in hopes that Airmen will use caution when drinking. Grimm recently shared the story with his squadron and is next scheduled to speak with Airmen from the First Term Airmen Center here in August.
“It all started when I was drinking in Saarbrücken (Germany) with some friends. That night, as we were on our way home, I took a wrong turn down a one-way street,” said Grimm.
He only had a few drinks, so he trusted himself behind the wheel. That wrong turn brought Grimm to the attention of local Polizei. Pulled over and breathalyzed over the legal limit, he was charged with a DUI.
“Once I got home, that’s when it hit me: I just got a DUI,” said Grimm. “It wasn’t like a DUI in Kaiserslautern where your first sergeant will have to come get you; it was more like I was a civilian and had just gotten pulled over and let go.”
It didn’t matter, the verdict was the same. The penalty for DUI ranges from reduction in rank, forfeitures of pay and restricted on-base driving privileges all the way up to a court-martial and a punitive discharge from the Air Force.
“Making that long walk to the commander’s office in my service dress uniform was the worst part,” said Grimm. “Marching down the hall of the offices of the first sergeants, chiefs and officers, knowing they can see you and know why you’re there. Knowing you’ve disappointed them, that you let them down by letting this happen, it was the worst.”
While many safety briefings highlight warnings and statistics, this briefing with FTAC Airmen will center on face-to-face interaction with someone who was directly affected by a DUI experience.
“DUIs and alcohol-related instances are a constant happening on this base,” said Staff Sgt. Blythe Mycka, 86th CS NATO subregistry officer. “So an Airman who is willing to go out and share his story with others is great. Hopefully it will touch a lot of people.”
“I’m choosing to speak with the FTAC class because I don’t want the Airmen to make the same mistake that I did,” said Grimm. “I’m here to be a warning to the Airmen to be more cautious while drinking.
I went through Ramstein’s FTAC myself, so I definitely feel like I can hit home by speaking to them about what I went through. I’ve been in the same room, I sat in the same seat and had the same briefings; I can relate,” said Grimm. “If I can stop even one of these Airmen from repeating my mistake, it’s worth sharing my story.”